LONDON: The international governing body for track and field athletics – core sport for the Olympic Games – led a flood of welcome and approval for the decision to postpone Tokyo 2020.
Last weekend Lord Coe urged IOC president Thomas Bach to waste no more time in taking a decision which was inevitable and end sweeks of uncertainty which had left potential competitors confused.
Reactions from . . .
World Athletics welcomes the decision of the IOC and the Japanese Government to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to 2021. It is what athletes want and we believe this decision will give all athletes, technical officials and volunteers some respite and certainty in these unprecedented and uncertain times.
Athletics will continue to do whatever we can to preserve and create an outdoor season of one-day meetings in 2020, starting and ending later than usual, so athletes, when they are able and it is safe to, will have access to competitions in every region. This will help them benchmark their performances and adjust their training accordingly for an Olympic Games in 2021. In light of this announcement, we will also expedite our current review of the Olympic qualification system, in cooperation with the IOC, and release any changes to the process as soon as possible so athletes know where they stand.
World Athletics stands ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date for the Olympic Games in 2021 and has already been in discussion with the Organising Committee of the World Athletics Championships Oregon 21 regarding the possibility of moving the dates of this highly popular worldwide event. They have reassured us that they will work with all of their partners and stakeholders to ensure that Oregon is able to host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates, including dates in 2022.
BOA, BPA and UK Sport:
The British Olympic Association (BOA), British Paralympic Association (BPA) and UK Sport welcome the news of the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Chief Executive of the BOA, Andy Anson, said: “It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement, but in all consciousness it is the only decision we can support, in light of the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on our nation, our communities and our families.
“Alongside UK Sport and the BPA, we have consulted with the National Governing Bodies of summer Olympic and Paralympic sports and with athlete representative groups, including our Athletes’ Commissions and the British Athletes’ Commission. It is with their input and support that we have a unanimous view that the impact of COVID-19 on athletes’ training and preparation means their regimes are now compromised irreparably.
“It is time for them to stop thinking about Tokyo 2020 for now and be home and safe with their families. “It would have been unthinkable for us to continue to prepare for an Olympic Games at a time the nation and the world no less is enduring great hardship. A postponement is the right decision.
“We have incredible sympathy for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and indeed our colleagues at the IOC, who are working tirelessly to seek a positive outcome to this difficult scenario. The Olympic Games is a symbol of hope for us all and we are sure that we will be in Tokyo at the right and appropriate time as the world re-emerges from this dark period.”
Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport said: “We welcome today’s decision from the IOC, IPC and Japan that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be postponed. Given the unprecedented global challenge we face, today’s news means that athletes, their coaches and support staff can now fully focus on what really matters at this terribly difficult time, keeping themselves and their families safe.
“We are working closely with government to ensure we can effectively support sports and their athletes through this distressing period. I’d like to take the opportunity to reassure sports that our guidance from last week remains in place that we will not seek to recover any financial performance investment or Athlete Performance Awards due to disruption caused by COVID-19.
“We also realise that today’s decision has significant financial implications for our high performance system and we are working hard to identify the wide ranging impacts and scenarios and are in close contact with government to establish how best to support our summer Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes to be ready for the Games when they do take place.
“I’d like to thank all our athletes who are playing a role in so many different ways in these challenging times, from supporting their local communities to inspiring us to stay active in our own homes. I’d also like to reassure the public that whilst the games are postponed, we strongly believe the power of sport will inspire the nation again.”
Mike Sharrock, CEO of the BPA, added: “The British Paralympic Association fully supports the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Stemming this global public health crisis and doing everything possible to safeguard the health and wellbeing of people should clearly take priority in these unprecedented times.
“We welcome the clarity this now gives Paralympic athletes throughout the world who have had their training and qualification plans severely disrupted but also recognise it will still be a deeply unsettling time for athletes who have worked for years focussed on delivering their best possible performance in Tokyo this summer.
“The British Paralympic Association is already implementing contingency plans to ensure ParalympicGB athletes have everything in place to be best prepared for the Games when they are staged in 2021.
“We recognise that there are a huge range of factors to be considered when looking to postpone an event at this scale and we acknowledge the scale of the challenge for our friends at the Tokyo organising committee, the IOC and IPC in addressing these.
“Now is the time for us all to work together to overcome this global threat. Sport has a unique power to inspire and bring people together and we are certain that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games can be that beacon of hope for the whole world to focus on to show what the human spirit can achieve.” #
We wish to state that this decision – to postpone the Games – should in no way be a reflection on the excellent organisation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games by the IOC, the Tokyo Organising Committee and the Government of Japan. Our thoughts remain with the families and individuals affected by COVID-19, as well as the front-line workers – including many health care professionals from the UK sports’ network – who are working to keep our communities safe and well.
We also sympathise with the many hundreds of athletes, both in the UK and globally, whose careers and personal ambitions are being impacted after many years of hard work and training. We remain committed to taking our Olympic and Paralympic athletes to Tokyo for the next edition of the summer Games, at the appropriate time, in the hope that it will be a celebration of the world re-emerging from this unprecedented time.
“Following the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, now is the time to ensure that athletes have at least some certainty in their life, especially those who have good reason to believe they have already qualified for the Olympic Games.
“I understand the need to postpone the Olympic Games to guarantee the safety of the athletes, participants and communities involved and believe the right decision has been made.
“However, it is vital that athletes who have qualified for the Games are given clarity about what this means for them in terms of competing in Tokyo in 2021, as well as considering the knock on effects on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, in terms of qualification, training and more.
“The IOC should guarantee quotas to athletes that have already qualified and to the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) where they are qualified at the team level. For our ranked athletes, this is the single biggest stressor – the fear they may have to fight again for what they have already earned.
“Covid-19 has caused unprecedented issues for International Federations and Governing Bodies to deal with and now is the time to focus on the health and welfare of everyone involved in the Olympic Movement.
“At USA Weightlifting, we are in constant communication with our athletes that qualified for Tokyo to ensure they are aware of what is going on and will continue to provide a lot of mental health resources to them during these uncertain times.”
—-Phil Andrews, ceo
Olympic Council of Asia:
The Olympic Council of Asia would like to express its total support for the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone
the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games until next year.
The OCA appreciates that this must have been an extremely difficult decision to make, but the rapidly deteriorating situation around the
world due to COVID-19 has made this postponement a necessity. The health and wellbeing of athletes and all Olympic stakeholders must be
the top priority.
The IOC, along with Japanese authorities, have tried to delay this decision as long as possible in the hope that the situation might
improve in the coming weeks and months but, sadly, this has not been the case. Now is the time for the Olympic sports movement around the
world to show unity and solidarity and to work as one team in preparing for a brighter future.
At this time, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Organising Committee of Tokyo 2020 for all the work, planning and
preparation they have put in over a number of years – only for this completely unforeseen pandemic to intervene and change the course of
Olympic history. We know Japan will recover from this setback and put on an even greater show to mark the coming together of humanity after
finally defeating this virus.
We would also like to send our gratitude and appreciation to the athletes of Asia for all their efforts in qualifying – or attempting to
qualify – for the Olympic Games. Although you must be disappointed at this time, the dream is not over. The Olympic Games will come back
stronger and with even more passion – and so will you. The OCA has always championed the interests of the athletes and it did its best to
ensure that the preparations of the Asian Athletes were not affected when this pandemic was at its peak in Asia.
The OCA will continue to create the best possible environment for our athletes to train and participate in the Olympic Games which is an amalgamation of human spirit, culture and sports.
Our National Olympic Committees have worked tremendously hard behind the scenes in preparing the best conditions possible for their
athletes. You have followed every guideline and met every deadline in guaranteeing a smooth build-up not only for your athletes and officials
but also for the Organising Committee in Tokyo. The athletes and organisers will need you again and rely on you to bring together all
aspects of management and operations in the future.
The OCA also commends the efforts of our International/Asian sport federations, for the way you have gone about amending your
qualification schedules in an effort to be fair to all athletes from all corners of Asia. This has been a near-impossible task in recent weeks
due to the ever-changing picture of the pandemic around the world and this postponement will now give you time to reassess the situation and,
hopefully, make new and concrete plans.
—-Husain Al Musallam, Director General OCA