Tokyo 2020 Olympics will not be ‘cancelled’ due to coronavirus, IOC insists

World Athletics chief Lord Coe admitted athletes will not be on an "even playing field" now due to covid-19

Jack Rathborn
Friday 20 March 2020 08:09
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Coronavirus: What we know so far

The International Olympic Committee insist the cancellation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is “not on the agenda”, though they are considering various scenarios amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC has said the Games would always start as planned on 24 July despite the sporting world collectively cancelling the vast majority of events due to covid-19.

And President Thomas Bach insists the governing body are still not considering cancellation, despite mounting pressure and concerns from the athletes.

“The cancellation is not on the agenda. We are committed to the success of these Games,” Back told the New York Times.

An IOC task force, which included the World Health Organization, has decided it is too early to make a definitive call on how the coronavirus will impact the Olympics.

“We don’t know what the situation will be,” he said.

“Of course we are considering different scenarios, but we are contrary to many other sports organizations or professional leagues in that we are four and a half months away from the Games.

“What makes this crisis so unique and so difficult to overcome is the uncertainty. Nobody today can tell you what the developments are tomorrow, what they are in one month, not to mention in more than four months.”

Japan is expected to welcome 600,000 overseas spectators and athletes to the event, which has seen sponsors pump in billions of dollars and at least $12 billion spent on preparations.

The Tokyo Olympics is under pressure to be cancelled

Bach said the final decision on the Games would not be determined by financial interests. Protecting the health of everyone involved and containing the virus were the main objectives, he added.

“Thanks to our risk management policies that have been in place for four years and our insurance, the IOC in any case will be able to continue operations and continue to accomplish our mission,” he said.

“The 206 national Olympic committees and the international sports federations expressed that the world in this extremely difficult and concerning situation needs a symbol of hope.

“So for us, while not knowing how long this tunnel will be, we would like the Olympic flame to be a light at the end of the tunnel ...”

In recent days several athletes, including reigning Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi, accused the IOC of putting athletes’ health at risk by urging them to continue to train while many countries are in lockdown mode.

Bach, a former Olympic gold medallist in fencing, said he sympathised with the athletes.

“For an athlete, the worst thing for preparation is the uncertainty that distracts from training and preparations,” he said. “I told the 220 athletes in the phone call Wednesday that we cannot pretend we have answers to all your questions.

“We are in the same situation as you and the rest of the world. It is a unique exceptional situation, which requires exceptional solutions.”

Reuters also contributed to this report

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