World Athletics President Lord Coe is now calling for the 2020 Summer Olympics to be postponed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As countries around the world have been impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19, Coe argued in a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it would be unreasonable to keep the games as scheduled, BBC reports.
According to the report, Coe followed-up on the letter with a teleconference call with Olympic federation presidents.
During the call, Coe said: “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.”
“I believe that time has come and we owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can,” he added, per the report.
Here’s more, from the BBC:
In his letter, the double Olympic 1500m champion listed three main reasons for delaying the 2020 Games:
Competition fairness – “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 reduce the spread of coronavirus.”
Risk of injury – “If athletes are unable to train properly now we both know, as we have both been there, they will push themselves even harder closer to an Olympic Games, which will increase the propensity for injury.”
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Emotional wellbeing of athletes – “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.”
The IOC is ultimately responsible for making a decision to keep, postpone or potentially cancel the games altogether. The committee has announced it will spend the next four weeks considering the decision.
From the BBC:
Options include a delay of several months or, more probably, a year from the scheduled start on 24 July.
Cancellation is “not on the agenda”, says the IOC, but a “scaled-down” Games will also be considered.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe told his country’s parliament on Monday that a postponement of Tokyo 2020 would be unavoidable if they cannot be held in a complete way.
On Sunday, Canada became the first major country to withdraw from this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics.
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committee said it had taken “the difficult decision” to pull out after consulting athletes, sports groups, and the government.