'Stressed ' athletes call for decision on Olympics
Olympic chiefs have been urged to decide on the fate of Tokyo 2020 within the next month to protect the wellbeing of athletes.
The International Olympic Committee have come under attack for not postponing this summer’s Games despite the coronavirus pandemic. And Callum Skinner, British gold medal winner, who leads campaign group Global Athlete, says the IOC must show ‘strong leadership’ and make a call on whether or not the event will go ahead by April 24 — three months before the scheduled opening ceremony in Tokyo.
The former British cyclist, who won a gold and silver medal at Rio 2016, told Sportsmail: ‘It’s a total mess at the moment. This level of uncertainty is unprecedented. A call needs to be made with three months to go. That has to be the cut off. Once we get into that three-month window where athletes are starting to make their final preparations, it is going to really heighten the stress of a lot of athletes.
‘Ultimately, athlete health has to come first. Even if the IOC does proceed it will then be up to the athletes and the national organising committees themselves as to whether they actually attend.’
Skinner’s comments came after the IOC came under fire for telling athletes to ‘continue to prepare as best they can’ at a time when many are unable to train because of lockdown in their countries.
Yesterday, the IOC held another emergency conference call with national Olympic committees, including Britain’s, and reiterated their commitment to staging the Games this summer. IOC president Thomas Bach said: ‘We had a call with 220 athlete representatives from all around the world. We were confronted with many questions concerning qualification systems and the restrictions in place. But we still have more than four months to go.’
Great Britain’s four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent tweeted: ‘I’m sorry Mr Bach but this is tone deaf. The instinct to keep safe is not compatible with athlete training, travel and focus that a looming Olympics demands of athletes, spectators organisers etc. Keep them safe. Call it off.’
Earlier in the day, the IOC’s stance had appeared to soften in the biggest hint yet that they could postpone Tokyo 2020. In a statement responding to athletes’ criticism, the IOC said: ‘The IOC is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes’ health.’
Japan’s deputy prime minister Taro Aso admitted the Olympics ‘would not make sense’ if some nations could not send athletes.
It has also emerged that ticket holders may not get refunds if the Olympics are called off due to a ‘force majeure’ incident.Daily Mail