With the major sporting events like UEFA Euro, French Open, NBA, Premier League, Indian Premier League (IPL) and others, all either suspended or postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak, the talk of the town now is whether the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead as per schedule.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is yet to take a call on pushing back the dates of the 2020 Olympics — scheduled to start on July 24 and end on August 9 — despite a growing clamour of federations and athletes to call off the quadrennial event as there’s the question of bringing 11,000 athletes and staff together in the Olympic Village.
But on Monday, former IOC board member Dick Pound said the Swiss-based body appeared to have decided to delay the event, likely for a year, due to the virus. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would hold talks over the phone with IOC President Thomas Bach at 1100 GMT on Tuesday, the Japanese government said.
The outbreak has now infected more than 377,000 across 194 countries and territories globally as of Tuesday morning, according to a Reuters tally, with over 16,500 deaths linked to the virus.
Bajrang Punia, India’s wrestler: “The way things are going on right now, it will be better if the Olympics are postponed. It will be beneficial not just for us, but for athletes from all countries. This is a difficult moment for everyone. At the moment, we have to be careful from the virus. That doesn’t mean I have stopped training though. I have been training everyday but simultaneously, it’s important to take care of our health too.”
Mirabai Chanu, India’s weight-lifter: “If the Olympics doesn’t happen all our efforts for the last four years will all go to waste. I don’t want it to cancel, I am praying to god every day. I just wanted a get an Olympic medal for myself.”
Achanta Sharath Kamal, India’s table tennis player: “As an athlete, I obviously want the Olympics to happen but it should not happen. I don’t see the scenario being safe for the Olympics to start on time. Everyone is talking about social distancing but it is one thing which won’t be possible at the Olympics. Thousands of athletes would be staying in the same village.”
Parupalli Kashyap, India’s badminton player: “IOC is encouraging us to continue training.. and how? Where? Ur joking right?”
Fouaad Mirza, India’s equestrian: “This is an unprecedented health hazard where countries have come to a standstill. If you ask me personally, it will be a hit for me from the sporting point of view, but the more important aspect here is the risk to people’s lives.”
Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics: “I don’t think we should have the Olympic Games at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety and a decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly in the coming days and weeks.”
United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC): “Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner.”
Max Siegel, USA Track and Field CEO: “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. The USATF is respectfully requesting that the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) advocate to the IOC for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.”
Nic Coward, Chairman of UK Athletics: “Facility operators are making understandable decisions to close facilities on which our athletes rely to get themselves ready for the biggest test of their careers and their sporting lives. The intensity of pressure on people right now is too great, and decisions have to be made soon.”
Royal Spanish Athletics Federation: “The board of directors of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA), on behalf of the majority of Spanish athletes, advocates the postponement of the Olympic Games. The circumstances do not guarantee an adequate preparation or a fair competition with the rest of the athletes in the world, without endangering the health [of Spanish athletes].”
Canadian Olympic Committee: “The COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (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.”
New Zealand National Olympic Committee: “We fully support current steps to postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This decision needs to be made quickly to provide the athletes, coaches and support staff with certainty, which will allow them to focus on their wellbeing at this critical time, while resetting and recalibrating for Tokyo.”
French Swimming Federation: “The Federation believes that the priority is to fight the spread of the epidemic and that the current context does not allow us to calmly envisage the smooth running of the 2020 Olympics Games.”
Paulo Wanderley, President of Brazil’s Olympic Committee: “It’s clear that right now maintaining the Games for this year will impede [athletes’] dream from being realized.”
Norwegian Olympic Committee: “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.”
Mary Kom, India’s boxer: “I don’t think the Games will be postponed or cancelled. It is too huge an event to be shifted just like that. It will cause chaos. In any case, it’s not in my hands.”
Rajeev Mehta, Secretary General of Indian Olympic Association (IOA): “Coronavirus has already been controlled in China, where it was massive, and we are confident things will come under control in the next two months. We are expecting the IOC to organise the Olympics during its scheduled dates.”
Thomas Bach, President of IOC: “Of course we are considering different scenarios, but we are contrary to many other sports organizations or professional leagues in that we are four-and-a-half months away from the Games. They are even more optimistic than we are, because most of them have postponed their events until April or the end of May. We are talking about the end of July.”
Toshiaki Endo, Vice President, Japan Sport Association: “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the one making the final decision. We will firmly continue our efforts to host the event in July,” Toshiaki Endo, vice president of the organizing committee, told Kyodo news.