IOC Urged To Make Quick Olympic Decision As US Backs Postponement

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the summer Games amid the spread of the COVID-19. The global sporting calendar has been swept away by the coronavirus pandemic but the International Olympic Committee has insisted the Tokyo Games will go ahead in four months despite growing calls for a postponement.
Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

The International Olympic Committee came under pressure to speed up its decision about postponing the Tokyo Games on Tuesday as athletes criticised the four-week deadline and the United States joined calls to delay the competition.

After Canada and Australia withdrew their teams, with the world hunkering down for the coronavirus pandemic, the US Olympic committee said postponement was the best way forward.

A growing group of national Olympic committees and sports bodies including World Athletics have called for the Games, set to start on July 24, to be pushed back, an outcome that now appears inevitable.

IOC officials are studying a postponement, among other options, but still believe a decision would be “premature” four months from the scheduled start. They will make an announcement within four weeks.

“My interpretation of the IOC’s communications is they don’t want to cancel, and they don’t think they can continue with the July 24 date,” senior IOC official Dick Pound told AFP.

“So you’re looking at the ‘P’ word — postponement.”

IOC president Thomas Bach, Japanese leader Shinzo Abe, Tokyo’s governor and the head of the organising committee will hold telephone talks later on Tuesday as the fate of the Games hangs in the balance.

The US Olympic team came out in favour of postponement after a survey of 1,780 US athletes found an overwhelming majority, 68 percent, backed delaying the Games.

The virus lockdown has shut down competition, including Olympic qualifiers, and made training not just difficult but also dangerous, as athletes risk contracting or spreading COVID-19.

– ‘Unacceptable, irresponsible’ –

Several countries have imposed strict stay-at-home orders and international travel has been drastically curtailed as worldwide deaths surge past 16,500 and confirmed cases surpass 378,000.

“Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner,” the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said.

USA Gymnastics also said it was “adding our voice to the chorus advocating for postponement”, after USA Swimming and USA Track and Field had already urged the US Olympic committee to press for a delay.

Meanwhile, British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson told Sky Sports News: “If the virus continues as predicted by the government, I don’t think there is any way we can send a team.”

With opposition to the July start reaching deafening levels, athletes questioned why the IOC needed weeks to come to a decision. The Olympic torch relay is due to start in Japan on Thursday.

“Such a response is unacceptable, irresponsible, and once again ignores the rights of athletes,” Global Athlete, an organisation which aims to speak for sports competitors, said in a statement.

British cyclist Callum Skinner strongly criticised IOC president Bach, accusing him of placing his own interests first.

“Bach’s stubbornness and arrogance has spectacularly failed in this instance and he has weakened the Olympic movement,” Skinner wrote on Twitter.

“This isn’t the first time he has put his own motives above the athletes and the movement.”

– ‘Dither and delay’ –

British hurdler Dai Greene said the “dither and delay” was “obscene” while Ed Warner, the chairman-designate of British wheelchair rugby, said the IOC had misjudged the mood.

“The IOC has said it will make a decision in four weeks,” he told the Guardian. “It hasn’t got that long. It probably has only got four days.”

World Athletics said it was prepared to shift its world championships, scheduled for August 6-15 next year in Oregon, to accommodate a potential Olympics next summer, seen as the most likely option.

But experts warn that shifting the Tokyo Games, which are seven years in the planning and have a price tag of $12.6 billion, is no simple matter.

“It is mind-bogglingly complex to make a sudden change after seven years of preparation for the biggest sporting event in the world,” Michael Payne, the IOC’s former head of marketing, told AFP.

AFP

Anthonia Orji

Disqus Comments Loading...

Recent Posts

  • Headlines

COVID-19: Atiku Donates N50m Relief Fund

  Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has donated N50million as relief fund to support the Federal Government's battle against the…

1 min ago
  • Coronavirus
  • World News

67 Italian Priests Have Died Of Coronavirus

  A total of 67 Italian priests infected with the novel coronavirus have died since the pandemic reached the Mediterranean…

11 mins ago
  • Local

COVID-19: Imo Govt To Shut Down All Markets, Borders

  The Imo state government says it will close down all markets and borders into the state as precautionary measures…

16 mins ago
  • Coronavirus
  • Local

BREAKING: Edo Speaker Tests Positive For Coronavirus

  Mr Frank Okiye, the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.…

1 hour ago
  • Africa

South Africa’s Coronavirus Cases Surge Past 500

  South Africa reported more than 150 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, taking the new tally to 554, the highest…

1 hour ago
  • Local

COVID-19: Kaduna Govt Bans Commercial Tricycles, Motorcycles

The Kaduna State Government has banned the activities of commercial tricycles and motorcycles with immediate effect as part of measures…

1 hour ago