Tokyo 2020 postponement calls put pressure on Olympic chiefs

A man wearing a face mask stands in front of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame being displayed outside Miyako railway station.

A man wearing a face mask stands in front of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame being displayed outside Miyako railway station.

AFP/Philip Fong

PARIS - Pressure mounted on Olympic organisers to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games after the powerful US track and field federation urged for this summer's event to be pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

USA Track and Field became the latest influential sporting body to ask for the Games to be called off after its head Max Siegel "respectfully requested" in a letter that the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) "advocate ... for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo".

USOPC had said it was too soon to axe the July 24-August 9 Games, much like International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Thomas Bach, who said that it would be "premature" to make such a big decision.

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"The right and responsible thing to do is to prioritise everyone's health and safety and appropriately recognise the toll this difficult situation has, and continues to take, on our athletes and their Olympic Games preparations," wrote Siegel.

The Norwegian Olympic Committee (NOC) said that it had sent a letter to the IOC on Friday motivated in part by a Norwegian government ban on organised sports activities which had created "a very challenging time for the sports movement in Norway".

"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 NOC said in the letter.

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The new chairman of the United Kingdom's athletics governing body also questioned the need to hold the Olympics this summer given the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19, which has killed nearly 11,500 people worldwide.

"To leave it where it is is creating so much pressure in the system. It now has to be addressed," head of UK Athletics Nic Coward told the BBC.

Source
AFP