The Olympic chiefs admitted on Wednesday that there were no “ideal” solutions to staging the 2020 Tokyo Olympics amid growing criticism from athletes across the world as the deadly coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.
“This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions,” an International Olympic Committee spokesperson said after facing backlash from top athletes who stated that they were being forced into taking health risks if the July 24-August 9 Games were to go ahead as scheduled during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes’ health.”
“No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes.”
Katerina Stefanidi, an Olympic pole vault champion, and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, a British heptathlete, had earlier voiced concerns when the IOC asserted it was “fully committed” to conducting the Games as per the schedule from July 24.
Stefanidi, amongst Greece’s most prominent athletes, was expected to hand the ceremonial flame to Japanese officials before the Greek torch relay leg was scrapped due to COVID-19. Across 150 countries, there have been 194,000 cases with 7,873 deaths, as of 0900 GMT Wednesday.
“The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family’s health and public health to train every day?” she tweeted.
This is not about how things will be in 4 months. This is about how things are now. The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family’s health and public health to train every day? You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months.https://t.co/cICKVQ4qsZ
— Katerina Stefanidi (@KatStefanidi) March 17, 2020
“You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months.”
“It’s unbelievable,” said Stefanidi. “What about team sports that have to train together? What about swimming? What about gymnastics that they touch the same objects?
“There is zero consideration of the risk they are putting us in right now.”
Johnson-Thompson too criticised the committee for asking athletes to train “as best they can”.
“I feel under pressure to train and keep the same routine which is impossible,” she wrote on Twitter.
“It’s difficult (to) approach the season when everything has changed in the lead-up apart from the ultimate deadline,” the Briton added.