Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

Breaking: Japanese Prime Minister and IOC review future of Tokyo Olympics amid pandemic

British Olympic Association ready to join calls for Games postponement

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will hold a telephone conference on Tuesday amid growing calls for the Tokyo games to be postponed.

Japan's government is negotiating with the IOC to postpone the Games by a year at most due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Sankei newspaper reported.

The British Olympic Association is expected to add their voice on Tuesday to the bodies asking for a delay.

The BOA, the British Paralympic Association and funding body UK Sport will also hold a conference call on Tuesday with bosses from the summer Olympic and Paralympic sports and it is anticipated they will make a collective call for the Games to be rescheduled and advise athletes to prepare on that basis.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound says the organisation has already decided to postpone the showpiece event.

The IOC has given itself four weeks to determine its future, with the Games due to get under way on July 24.

"On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided," Pound told USA Today.

"The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know."

Great Britain are unlikely to be able to send a team to Tokyo in any case, the chair of the BOA warned.

Hugh Robertson welcomed the IOC's announcement that it is examining contingency scenarios, including postponement.

However, he said that, due to the widespread closure of training facilities and the likelihood that the impact of coronavirus in Britain will worsen over the coming weeks, there was almost certainly no way Team GB could compete.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 15, 2020 The logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is seen in Tokyo.. Senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official Dick Pound said March 23, 2020 a postponement of this year's Tokyo Olympics is now inevitable as the world reels from the coronavirus pandemic. / AFP / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU
Senior International Olympic Committee official Dick Pound said a postponement of this year's Tokyo Olympics is now inevitable as the world reels from the coronavirus pandemic. AFP

"I think it is very simple. If the virus continues as predicted by the Government, I don't think there is any way we can send a team," he said.

"And I base that on two things. Firstly, I don't see any way that the athletes and Team GB could be ready by then.

"Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.

"Second, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this."

He added: "We can't see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted at the moment and I expect we will be joining Canada and Australia shortly."

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees have announced they will not compete in Tokyo this summer, while the Australians have told their athletes to prepare for a postponement to the summer of 2021.

Team USA said it had surveyed its athletes with nearly 93 per cent of the 1,780 respondents preferring to see the Games postponed rather than outright cancellation, while 68 per cent said the Games could not be fairly competed if continued as scheduled.

Boris Johnson's official spokesperson has urged the IOC to make a "definitive decision".

The Prime Minister's spokesperson said: "Athletes are facing significant uncertainty in the current environment. Their health and safety, alongside that of sports fans and officials due to work at the Games, must be absolutely paramount.

"We want the International Olympic Committee to make a definitive decision soon to bring clarity to all of those involved."

Meanwhile, a leading figure on the BOA's athletes' commission has described IOC president Thomas Bach as arrogant and stubborn over the organisation's approach to the pandemic.

Callum Skinner, a 2016 Olympic cycling champion, was scathing about Bach in a social media post.

"IOC president Thomas Bach's stubbornness and arrogance has spectacularly failed in this instance and he has weakened the Olympic movement," Skinner wrote on Twitter.

"This isn't the first time he has put his own motives above the athletes and the movement."

Updated: March 24, 2020 11:39 AM

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