Australia has joined Canada and the US track and field and swimming bodies in calling for a halt to this year’s summer Olympic Games. They too now believe it should be postponed until next year.
Tokyo 2020 is currently set to take place in four months time, but world-wide pressure is mounting to have it postponed.
Under this pressure the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggested last week that the Games should be postponed for up to two years. It said it had given itself four weeks to make a firm decision on such a postponement.
A day later Japanese prime-minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged for the first time that the Tokyo Olympics might have to be delayed.
Abe had previously insisted that it was Japan’s aim to hold the summer Games in “complete form” as scheduled. He now admitted the situation had changed. “It may now be impossible to do that,” he told a parliamentary session.
Last week the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said the Games should either go ahead or be canceled, but it too had subsequently had a change of heart.
Tough on everyone
AOC CEO Matt Carroll said it would be really tough on everyone to have to change the Olympic dates. In the circumstances he could therefore understand why the IOC wanted a month’s leeway to come up with a final decision
“Moving the world’s biggest sporting event involves so many people, so many sports. It is not just athletes that are affected, but also the world’s media, its sponsors, and all the rest including its organizers and its thousands of workers.
Meantime, there have been more than 339,000 positive cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 14,600 deaths.
The pandemic seemed to have slowed dramatically in China where it originated, but is still growing in the West, notably in Italy, the USA and Great Britain
Carroll said while athletes wanted to compete, the global uncertainty was greatly upsetting their preparations
Global uncertainty upsetting athletes
“The AOC executive,” he said Monday, “Met this morning and considered all the parts – the IOC decision, the government [travel] measures and most importantly, our athletes.
“The decision is that we unanimously agreed that the Australian Olympic team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances, both here and abroad.
“We have to look after not only just our athletes and officials, but also their families. We know they have been feeling greatly concerned for their sons and their daughters.
“The AOC respected and understood the travel restrictions put in place by the Australian Government,” Carroll explained. “We need to keep Australia Safe.”
However, combined with the IOC’s decision to seriously consider postponing the Tokyo Games, “we, the AOC, have decided to plan towards a Tokyo Games in 2021,” he said.
“I understand that the Tokyo government and TOCOG (Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) will work together with the IOC in the coming month.”
“We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty.”
— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) March 23, 2020