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Olympic Games are still on, insist organisers

 

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In sharp contrast to the rest of the shutdown sporting world, the International Olympic Committee remain "fully committed" to delivering the Tokyo Games this summer and have pledged support to athletes whose qualification chances have been left uncertain by the postponement or cancellation of competitions due to the coronavirus. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

In sharp contrast to the rest of the shutdown sporting world, the International Olympic Committee remain "fully committed" to delivering the Tokyo Games this summer and have pledged support to athletes whose qualification chances have been left uncertain by the postponement or cancellation of competitions due to the coronavirus. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

In sharp contrast to the rest of the shutdown sporting world, the International Olympic Committee remain "fully committed" to delivering the Tokyo Games this summer and have pledged support to athletes whose qualification chances have been left uncertain by the postponement or cancellation of competitions due to the coronavirus. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

In sharp contrast to the rest of the shutdown sporting world, the International Olympic Committee remain "fully committed" to delivering the Tokyo Games this summer and have pledged support to athletes whose qualification chances have been left uncertain by the postponement or cancellation of competitions due to the coronavirus.

The IOC are this week talking to key stakeholders about the status of the Games. Having met with sporting federations already, the IOC plan further talks with national Olympic committees, athletes' representatives, the International Paralympic Committee and others.

But in a statement yesterday, they said: "The IOC remain fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.

"The IOC encourage all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as best they can."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week said he had the support of G-7 nations to deliver the Games "as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus".

The IOC said they would continue to monitor the situation "24/7" in order to safeguard the health of all participants and the interests of athletes and of Olympic sport ahead of the Games, due to open on July 24.

Among the countless sporting events which have already been postponed or cancelled due to the outbreak are several Olympic qualifying events, creating significant uncertainty in the final months before the Games.

As it stands, only 57% of the Olympic field has been determined, and the IOC said they were ready to work with international federations to adapt their schedules as necessary, while not ruling out increasing the size of athlete quotas.

“Any increase in athlete quotas will be considered on a case-by-case basis under exceptional circumstances, with the support of the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020,” the statement said.

It added that any adaptations to qualification systems would be based either on rankings or historical results, and “reflect where possible the existing principles of the respective qualification system”.

The statement noted that “in some countries, athletes are even finding it hard to continue their regular training schedules”.

“The IOC are reassured by the solidarity and flexibility shown by the athletes, the (International Federations) and the (National Olympic Committees), that are managing these challenges across a number of sports,” the statement added.

“The IFs will make proposals for any adaptations to their respective qualification systems based on the principles outlined above. The adaptations need to be implemented sport by sport because of the differences between qualification systems.”

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “The health and wellbeing of all those involved in the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is our number-one concern.”

Belfast Telegraph