COVID-19: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organisers Respond to Frustrated Athletes

0

Olympic organisers have warned “no solution will be ideal” in preparing for Tokyo 2020 after being accused of putting athletes “in danger”.

The summer showpiece is scheduled to begin on 24 July despite the relentless cancellation of sporting events as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi said the International Olympic Committee was “risking our health”.

Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson said training had become “impossible”.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) responded, stating: “This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions. 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.

“No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes.”

World heptathlon champion Johnson-Thompson, 27, is returning to the UK from her training base in France as a result of the country being in lockdown.

Tokyo 2020 organisers have pledged to deliver a “complete” Games but Johnson-Thompson said current guidance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is confusing.

She said: “The IOC advice ‘encourages athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympics Games as best as they can’ with the Olympics only four months away but the government legislation is enforcing isolation at home, with tracks, gyms and public spaces closed.

“I feel under pressure to train and keep the same routine, which is impossible.

“I’m in a very fortunate place given the circumstances. I’m healthy, well supported and I have already qualified for the Olympics. But at this moment it’s difficult to approach the season when everything has changed in the lead up apart from the ultimate deadline.”

All club training sessions, events, competitions, club committee and face-to-face meetings, athlete camps, running groups and social events have been suspended across England, Scotland and Wales.

Several athletes have joined Johnson-Thompson in pointing to confusion on how they should prepare.

Stefanidi, who won gold for Greece in pole vault at Rio 2016, said: “This is not about how things will be in four months. This is about how things are now.

“The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family’s health and public health to train every day? You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in four months.”

Hayley Wickenheiser, a member of the IOC, has said the Olympic governing body’s decision to “move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity.”

Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) President Alejandro Blanco has told Reuters he would prefer this year’s Games be postponed.

Around 57% of the athletes set to attend the Games have so far qualified.

On Tuesday, the IOC asked athletes to continue preparations “as best they can”.

Jessica Judd, who represented Britain over 5,000m at the 2019 world championships, tweeted: “How on earth are we meant to carry on preparing best we can?

“Will someone share with me what races we can do to get times and whether trials will go ahead and when training can return to normal?”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has insisted the Games will go ahead as planned in July.