SONJA NIKCEVIC / AIPS* in LAUSANNE: Olympic president Thomas Bach has reiterated the IOC’s full support for crisis-battered Brazil heading towards the Rio Games in August.
In confirming further support funding for the organising committee Bach welcomed assurances to the executive board from Rio’s mayor Eduardo Paes on the finalisation of venue construction, adding that the IOC was sure “progress will be achieved right on time before the opening of the Games”
Regarding the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil, the IOC president insisted the World Health Organization had not been pressured by the IOC to endorse the Games despite calls from 150 public health experts that the Games be called off or moved because of to the zika virus.
Bach said: “How can an NGO like the IOC pressure the World Health Organization? We count on the WHO to give us a clear assessment of the situation and helping us navigate the situation and provide health and travel advice.”
The IOC president repeated the mantra of protecting clean athletes by upholding a zero-tolerance policy for dopers, adding that the retests of Beijing and London samples and the doubled budget for pre-Olympic testing would ensure the level playing field that one would expect from the Olympic Games.
Bach refused to comment on the possibility of Russian athletes being banned from the Games in Rio, or the possibility of proven clean Russian athletes competing under the Olympic flag in a situation similar to that of Kuwait in case a blanket ban is put in place for Russian competitors.
The IOC president repeated that the final decision on the possible ban of Russian athletes would and could be made exclusively by the IAAF, therefore putting a large portion of the doping dilemma on the shoulders of the International federations, with cases going beyond just Russia or athletics.
The IOC will hold a stakeholders meeting on June 21, four days after the IAAF council convenes to decide on the fate of Russian athletics.
The final date for submitting a list of Rio athletes is July 12, meaning that the IOC and its “key stakeholders” would have to act quickly to reach any kind of consensus on a highly delicate issue that could see a number of athletes taking their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in case a blanket ban for Rio is indeed put in place by the IAAF and upheld by the IOC and WADA.
Looking to Tokyo 2020, Bach clarified uncertainty regarding the five proposed ‘extra’ sports of baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing. The IOC must vote on a full package, all or none, at its Session in Rio de Janeiro.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com
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