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UK Athletics, Norwegian Olympics And US Swimming Executive Called For Tokyo Olympics Postponement

The chairman of UK Athletics, Nic Coward, has become the first senior figure in British sports administration to voice his belief that the Olympics should be called off now, according Telegraph. Nic said postponing the Game now will “remove the stress” from athletes’ whose lives and training have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“To leave it where it is is creating so much pressure in the system,” he told the BBC.

“It now has to be addressed. 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.”

Elsewhere, the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF) has written to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach to request the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games does not take place before the coronavirus situation is under firm control on a global scale.

The letter was written to the IOC by the NIF President Berit Kjøll and secretary general Karen Kvalevåg. Kjøll said it is “neither justifiable nor desirable to send Norwegian athletes to the Olympics or Paralympics in Tokyo until 2020 before the world community has put this pandemic behind them”.

Kjøll stressed that regardless of the final decision taken by the IOC, the organisation adding it would undertake independent national assessment related to its athletes participation at the Olympics and Paralympics.

“The Norwegian NOC is concerned about the COVID 19-pandemic and the public health situation both nationally and internationally,” the letter reads.

“We understand and respect that the situation is indeed very complicated for the Japanese health authorities, the OCOG and the IOC”.

“We trust that the advice from the Tokyo 2020 Task Force is of the highest medical standard and has the safety of the athletes as the overall priority. With respect to the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo, we, like the IOC, are all concerned”.

“In the light of the challenging situation we all face, we would appreciate if the IOC could give us insight on the central milestones in the process leading up to the final decision on Tokyo 2020. 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.”

Another open letter was also written by the chief executive of USA Swimming, Tim Hinchey, but this to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) urging it to “advocate for the postponement of the Olympic Games

Hinchey felt “compelled” to make the request after he had “watched our athletes’ worlds be turned upside down and watched them struggle to find ways to continue to prepare and train – many for the biggest competitive opportunity of their lives.”

While acknowledging that there are “no perfect answers”,  USA Swimming is advocating for the Games to be postponed by a year.

That “is a solution that provides a concrete path forward and allows all athletes to prepare for a safe and successful Olympic Games in 2021”, Hinchey wrote.

“We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes.”

USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland and chairman Susanne Lyons have responded, promising that USOPC “will be leaders in providing accurate advice and honest feedback, and be unfailing advocates of the athletes and their safety, and the necessity of a fair platform for the Games.”

The USOPC response said the organisation felt “complete and total empathy for the athlete community”, but that Tokyo 2020 organisers should be given “the opportunity to gather more data and expert advice before insisting that a decision be made”.

The USOPC has made it clear that all athletes should put their health and wellness, and the health and wellness of the greater community, above all else at this unprecedented moment”, read the statement from Hirshland and Lyons.

“At the same time, and as it relates to the Games, we have also heard from athletes that they want the Olympic and Paralympic community to be very intentional about the path forward – and to ensure that we aren’t prematurely taking away any athletes’ opportunity to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games until we have better clarity.”

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