IOC under pressure: 2020 Olympics decision imminent as Australia and Canada pull out
Both Australia and Canada have pulled out of the Olympic Games. Both countries’ Olympic Committees have asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year.
The IOC said yesterday that is now giving itself four weeks to come to a final decision on whether the Games should go ahead or be postponed.
It said in a statement: “The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement.
“The IOC is confident that it will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks, and greatly appreciates the solidarity and partnership of the NOCs and IFs in supporting the athletes and adapting Games planning.”
However, the IOC also said in the same statement that there have been significant improvements in the COVID-19 situation in Japan, which means the country could be in a good position to host the Games as planned in July, with health safeguards [click here to read the IOC statement].
The Australian Olympic Commitee (AOC) said this morning that Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOC’s announcement of a potential postponement of this year’s Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), backed by their Athletes’ Commissions, National Sports Organisations and the Government of Canada, made the decision on Sunday 22 March to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020.
In a statement, the COC and CPC said: “The COC and CPC urgently call on the IOC and IPC and the WHO to postpone the Games for one year and we offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring. While we recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community.
“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health. With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games. In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”
The AOC stated: “The AOC believes our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their National Federations.
“The AOC held an Executive Board meeting via teleconference this morning and unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad.”
AOC chief executive, Matt Carroll, said need to be able to do the right thing for themselves, their families and the world community. He said: “We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programmes. With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation.
“The IOC had adopted the key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport. This decision reflects those principles.
“We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty,” Carroll concluded.
Seb Coe also stated that it was unfeasible for the Olympics to go ahead as planned. He said in a letter to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC: “No one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but as I have said publicly, we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, and a decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly.”
Meanwhile, veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today Sports that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed, likely to 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks.
Pound said the postponement has been decided, but the parameters going forward have not been determined. Pound, a Canadian who has been one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades, said he believes the IOC will announce its next steps soon.
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