Chorus for Tokyo Games’ postponement getting louder


Los Angeles, March 21: A movement of sorts is steadily gathering pace in favour of postponement of Tokyo Olympics. Hours after US Swimming urged the country’s Olympic officials to request the International Olympic Committee to defer the Games, the French Swimming, the US Track Federation, Norwegian and Brazil Olympic Committees have sent out similar messages.
In a letter to the CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel urged the federation to advocate for the postponement of the Games, which are to start July 24.
USATF joins USA Swimming, which sent a similar letter to the USOPC on Thursday.
The USOPC leadership has been in agreement with the IOC, that it’s too soon to make any decisions regarding postponing the games.
Brazil’s Olympic Committee has also called for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be postponed until 2021.
The Brazilian body said in a statement published on Saturday that the decision is a necessity due to the seriousness of the pandemic and “the consequent difficulty for athletes to keep their best competitive level.”
It also said that it continues to “trust in the International Olympic Committee.”
Brazil organized the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, the first in South America.
Olympics should definitely be postponed: Kamal
India’s veteran table tennis player Sharath Kamal is in line to play his fourth Olympics in July-August but he wants the IOC to postpone the mega event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sharath, who won his first title in 10 years when he won the ITTF Oman Open last week, is in self-quarantine ever since he returned from Muscat in the wee hours of Monday.
With the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) suspending all events until the end of April, next month’s Asian Olympic Qualifying event in Bangkok has also been postponed indefinitely.
“As an athlete, I obviously want the Olympics to happen but it should not happen. The epicentre of the virus will keep changing, first it was China, now it is Italy and Iran too is badly affected in Asia. I don’t see the scenario being safe for the Olympics to start on time,” the 37-year-old said.
“Everyone is talking about social distancing but it is one thing which won’t be possible at the Olympics. Thousands of athletes would be staying in the same village,” he said.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not yet taken a call on the Summer Games with its president Thomas Bach saying earlier this week that it would be “premature” to do so. More than 11,000 have succumbed to the virus worldwide.
Sharath, who is world number 38, and 31st-ranked G Sathiyan, are well placed to qualify on the basis of their rankings even if the qualifications event doesn’t take place due to the pandemic.
“There are no events happening at the moment so no change in the rankings. If things stay the way they are, we should qualify with our rankings,” he added.
Norway urges Olympics to be postponed until coronavirus crisis over
The Norwegian Olympic Committee (NOC) said Saturday they had asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo until the new coronavirus pandemic was under control.
In a letter sent to the IOC on Friday, the Norwegian sports body said it was “concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health situation both nationally and internationally.”
“Our clear recommendation is that the Olympic Games in Tokyo shall not take place before the COVID-19 situation is under firm control on a global scale,” the letter continued.
The NOC also pointed out that one of the measures undertaken in order to curb the spread of the virus in Norway was a ban on organised sports activities, which had created “a very challenging time for the sports movement in Norway”.
Speaking to AFP, communications advisor to the NOC Sofie Olsen said: “We want to emphasise that the IOC make a decision sooner than later so that everyone can have a fair chance of preparing.”
As of Friday, 258,930 cases of the new coronavirus had been confirmed with 11,129 deaths, across 163 countries and territories.
The Olympics are increasingly in doubt as the pandemic, which emerged in China last year but has now spread around the world, shows no sign of slowing down.
American swim federation USA Swimming asked for the games to be postponed on Friday and was joined by its French counterpart on Saturday.
However, IOC President Thomas Bach insisted this week it was “premature” to consider postponing the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24.
Brazil calls for Oly to be pushed back to 2021
The Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) called for this year’s Tokyo Olympics to be suspended because of the coronavirus on Saturday and proposed they be held on the same dates in 2021.
Athletes are worried about keeping fit and being able to compete in qualifying events and other competitions ahead of the scheduled Games from July 24-Aug. 9.
“As an ex-judoka and coach in the sport, I learned that every athlete’s dream is to go to the Olympics in top form,” said COB president Paulo Wanderley.
“It’s clear that right now maintaining the games for this year will impede this dream from being fully realised.”
The COB stressed it still had full confidence in the IOC but said a move was the best solution.
“The IOC has gone through immense problems before, with the episodes that ended in the cancellation of the games in 1916, 1940 and 1994, because of the world wars, and the boycotts of Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984,” Wanderley said in a statement posted on the COB website.
“They knew how to overcome these obstacles and the Olympic flame is stronger than ever.”
Brazil hosted the last summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The South American nation had its best ever performance, finishing 13th in the medals table with seven golds, six silvers and six bronzes.
United States Track and Field called for the Olympics to be postponed earlier on Saturday.
World champion Lewis Hamilton self-isolating as precaution
Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton says he is self-isolating but will not get tested for coronavirus as others need attention more than him.
The 35-year-old Briton said he decided to self-isolate because he had been at the same function in London that actor Idris Elba and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau attended earlier this month.
Elba and Gregoire-Trudeau subsequently both tested positive for COVID-19.
“I want to let you know that I am doing well,” Hamilton said in a statement. “There has been speculation about my health, after I was at an event where two people later tested positive for coronavirus.
“I have zero symptoms and it has now been 17 days since I saw Sophie and Idris. I have been in touch with Idris and happy to hear he is OK.
“I did speak to my doctor and double checked if I needed to take a test but the truth is, there is a limited amount of tests available and there are people who need it more than I do, especially when I wasn’t showing any symptoms at all.” Hamilton has been in isolation since last Friday. (AP/PTI/Agencies/AFP)