“The athletes desperately want to go to the Olympic Games and desperately want to represent their countries at the Olympics, but they also take on board their own personal health, [and] also the health and wellbeing of their fellow athletes around the world.”

Matt Carroll, the CEO of the Australian Olympic Committee hosted a media conference today, explaining how the AOC believes a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics for a year is something that must be considered.

Carroll acknowledged the difficulties of shifting the Games from a start date at the end of July 2020 to what would be a similar date in 2021.

“What significantly changed over the weekend, of course, is the terrible crisis that the virus is bringing on many countries around the world,” said Carroll.

“Taking all this into account, the AOC executive met this morning and considered all the parts… the IOC’s decision, the government’s measures and, most importantly, our athletes. The decision is that they agreed that the Australian Olympic team cannot be assembled in the changing circumstances both here, and abroad.

“We have to look after not only our athletes and officials, but also their families who are feeling concern for their sons and their daughters.

“So, with these travel restrictions in place by the government – which we respect and understand – combined with the decision of the International Olympic Committee, we’ve decided to plan towards the hosting of the Games in 2021, in Tokyo.

“I understand it’s a situation which the Tokyo government, and TOCOG, will look at with the IOC over the coming month.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IOC has been consistent with its messaging and adamant that it would continue to strive for an Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 but the crisis continues to escalate, thus prompting suggestions of postponement.

Carroll made his statement to the media at 3.35pm in Sydney and, going on his commentary, we can expect similar statements from other national Olympic committees throughout the day.

He conceded that “dramatic changes in our own country, and across the world” took place over the weekend.

“Things have changed, and you must address those changes,” continued Carroll.

Carroll said that a postponement “was on the cards last week”, but that discussions with the Tokyo government and TOCOG opened up a new line of thinking.

The suggestion is that a formal announcement will be made by the IOC “within a month”.

“Moving the world’s biggest sporting event involves so many people – not just the athletes but also the media, sponsors… the rest – is not easy to do,” said Carroll. “It remains challenging, but the IOC decided they had to look at that as well.”

Athletes are already unable to adequately prepare for events in a timely manner and the AOC believes a rescheduling of the Games to 2021 presents a realistic solution to a significant problem which continues to escalate.

Asked if there was a sense of relief brought about by even considering a postponement, Carroll replied, “Most importantly, it gives certainty.

“It gives certainty to our athletes. It gives certainty to sport… and that’s what they needed because the feedback we received over the weekend, particularly after the new decisions by the government and what’s happening elsewhere around the world – with potential outbreaks in Africa and other places – we need to give our athletes that certainty. And that’s what we’ve done.”

 

– By Rob Arnold

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