By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
In the midst of the CoronaVirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans to complete their assessment of the virus so as to decide the fate of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.
This was confirmed in a letter by IOC to the Presidents,
Secretaries Generals, President’s de Mission, and National Olympic Committees on March 22, 2020.
“Within the last 48 hours we have noted on the one hand great improvements in Japan, but on the other hand, seen dramatic increases in the spread of the virus, and new outbreaks in different regions of the world. The IOC Executive Board therefore held an extraordinary meeting this afternoon to discuss the evolving situation of COVID-19 and the impact it is having on athletes and wider society.
Following these discussions, an open letter to the global athlete community was
posted on Athlete365.
As you will see from this open letter, over the next four weeks, the IOC will aim to
complete our assessment of various scenarios relating to the Olympic Games Tokyo
2020. This work will reflect the principles established last week, and approved by
you in our video conference, and will involve a constant dialogue with the taskforce
established to monitor the COVID-19 situation.” The letter read.
In a related development, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has called for Tokyo 2020 to be postponed.
World Athletics has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo because of the coronavirus crisis.
In a letter to IOC counterpart Thomas Bach, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said Tokyo 2020 taking place as planned in July and August is “neither feasible nor desirable” amid growing international concern over the pandemic.
“I write to you to request that the Games be moved,” Coe wrote in the letter, a copy of which has been seen by kick442.com
“No-one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but as I have said publicly, we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, and a decision on the Olympic Games must become very obvious very quickly,” Coe said.
“I believe that time has come and we owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can.”
“Every one of my Area Presidents believes that we can no longer expect a fair and level playing field in our sport given the number of athletes who are struggling to train in various countries due to measures put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” he wrote.
“If we lose the level playing field, then we lose the integrity of the competition.
“Nobody wants this, least of all the athletes and the fans.”
Coe said measures being introduced across the world means athletes “will push themselves even harder closer to an Olympic Games which will increase the propensity for injury which will have serious effects on athletes next year and possibly longer”.
“Every area is witnessing daily struggles athletes are going through having to choose, if indeed they have a choice, of how and where to train, at what risk to their health and the health of their families and increasingly at the cost of their own emotional wellbeing,” the World Athletics head wrote.
“The uncertainty of the Olympic Games happening in July and the inherent desire and motivation to excel that resides in all our athletes is causing real anguish that we can, collectively, put a stop to.”
Pressure has been growing on the IOC to postpone the event because of the virus, which has killed more than 14,000 people and infected over 335,000 worldwide.
Several competitors and National Olympic Committees have called for a postponement because of the impact the outbreak has had on athletes’ training programmes and qualification for Tokyo 2020.
A growing number of countries have imposed nationwide lockdowns, travel restrictions and bans on events involving a certain amount of people as a result of the the pandemic.
In Nigeria as well as other parts of Africa, the outbreak of COVID-19 have exacerbated the cancellation of major sports events. The 2020 National Sports Festival in Nigeria which was expected to start last weekend was postponed. In football, the 2019-2020 Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) Premiership as well as the Nigeria Professional Football League were postponed with directives from Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to suspend all football activities across the nation.
Whether the Olympic games will go ahead or not, the IOC have a big role to play and that will play out in weeks time.
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