By delaying Tokyo Games, the International Olympic Committee finally admits it’s not the main game in town
Australian officials have praised the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games until next year because of the coronavirus outbreak, saying it will come as a relief to athletes around the world.
- The Australian Olympic Committee says the world athletic community was relieved by the decision to postpone the games
- Australian athletes had already been advised to plan for the Olympics to be held next year
- The IOC admits organising for the Tokyo Olympics to be held next year will be a lengthy process
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee announced on Tuesday night that the Olympics and Paralympics — which were due to begin in July and August respectively — would be pushed back to “safeguard the health of the athletes”.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) had already told its athletes to begin preparing for the Olympics to be held in 2021.
AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said the decision to postpone the Olympics and Paralympics for 12 months had finally given athletes clarity following a period of uncertainty as to whether they would proceed.
Australian Olympics athletes will have to wait until next year for the Tokyo Games. (AAP Image: David Mariuz)
He said athletes would now be experiencing an overwhelming sense of relief.
“That’s what I think the world athletic community is feeling today, relieved,” Mr Carroll told a media conference in Sydney.
“Saddened, of course, but relieved because I think it was the right decision to make.”
Mr Carroll said his organisation would now start assessing what needed to be done to prepare athletes for Tokyo in the wake of the postponement.
“In the months ahead, we will work through the implications of postponement with our member sports, athletes and our partners so we can deliver the Australian team to Tokyo next year to make Australians proud,” he said.
“We will communicate with athletes and sports to provide clarity for those athletes and teams who have qualified and will not be required to requalify.
“That will give athletes some comfort, but we await further details in the coming weeks. A key message today is to stay safe and keep those around you safe. Follow the Government’s announcements.
“There are some tough times ahead for all of us. There are times we will have to show that Olympic quality of resilience but at least we have a new goal and planning has started.”
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Australia’s Olympic chef de mission Ian Chesterman said athletes would be at ease with the knowledge that the Games would still be held next year.
“That’s really going to be a big weight off the shoulders of so many athletes around the world and athletes here in Australia, knowing they now have some certainty to work towards next year,” he said.
IOC gives ‘full commitment’ to Games going ahead
The IOC says Tokyo still faces significant challenges in hosting the games in light of the coronavirus outbreak. (Reuters: Athit Perawongmetha)
The announcement of the decision to postpone the Olympics and Paralympics followed a late-night teleconference between IOC president Thomas Bach and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mr Bach said the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee now faced a lengthy period of planning.
“The Olympic Games are maybe the most complex event on this planet and getting everything together cannot be done in just a phone call between the two of us,” he told a media teleconference.
“This is really a big challenge. Finances have not been discussed, because it’s about protecting human lives, and financial considerations cannot take priority.
“Prime Minister Abe has declared the full support and commitment of the Japanese Government to make this solution work and to have successful Games in the end.
“On my side, I have declared the full commitment of the IOC to come to this positive result.”
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International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said postponing the Tokyo Paralympics was “absolutely the right thing to do”.
“The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sport event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible,” he said in a statement.
“Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is. It is essential therefore that all steps are taken to try and limit the spread of this disease.”
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