We will not rush into Tokyo 2020 decision, says SA Olympic boss
JOHANNESBURG – While they intend on “protecting our athletes as best as possible”, South Africa’s Olympic governing body Sascoc are not about to rush into a decision about their participation at the Tokyo Olympics.
Already, Australia and Canada have announced that they will not be participating in the Games should they continue as scheduled this year.
But interim Sascoc president Barry Hendricks said yesterday that they will take their cue from the IOC with whom they have had discussions already.
“We had a meeting with the IOC last week and they have advised us that they will make a decision on the Tokyo Olympics soon. We are waiting on them before we make any kind of decision or announcement on our stance as Sascoc,” Hendricks said.
With the coronavirus seemingly gathering speed in some parts of the world, the IOC and the Japanese government find themselves under pressure to call off the Games scheduled for 24 July-9 August and postpone them to next year.
The two parties yesterday slightly shifted their standpoint that the Olympics would start as scheduled on July 24 as they announced that there would be a month-long consultation over the scenarios.
According to a Reuters report, major sporting nations Australia and Canada withdrew from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics yesterday as organisers faced global pressure to postpone the Games due to the coronavirus crisis for the first time in their 124-year modern history.
Putting back the event, as is looking inevitable, would be a massive blow for host Japan which has pumped in more than $12billion of investment.
Huge sums are also at stake for sponsors and broadcasters. But a groundswell of concern from athletes - already struggling to train as gyms, stadiums and swimming pools close around the world - appears to be tipping the balance, along with the cancellation of other major sports events.
The IOC and Japanese government have both edged back from weeks of blanket insistence the Games would go ahead, announcing a month-long consultation over other scenarios including postponement.
The Olympics have never before been delayed, though they were cancelled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the World Wars, and major Cold War boycotts disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984 respectively.
“The moment the IOC indicates that it is thinking about other solutions, it has already decided to delay the Games,” said French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia.
Canada and Australia both bluntly said they would not participate if the Games were not put back to 2021 and Britain may follow suit.@Tshiliboy