Worried British athlete calls for Tokyo Olympics to be postponed

A woman walks past a large display promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. (AP pic)

LONDON: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) must give athletes some “clarity, transparency and flexibility” by postponing the Tokyo Games over the coronavirus pandemic, British athlete Guy Learmonth has said.

The flu-like virus which originated in China late last year has already killed over 6,000 people globally and infected more than 160,000.

It has wreaked havoc on the global sporting calendar and sparked concerns over the viability of the July 24-Aug 9 Games.

On Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated that his country continued to prepare to host the Games as planned.

“Purely from an athlete’s point of view, we need clarity, transparency and flexibility,” Learmonth, who hopes to compete at Tokyo in the 800m event, told The Guardian.

“The press conference I saw from the Japanese prime minister didn’t exactly fill me full of confidence that these Games are going to go ahead… We have no idea how bad this is going to get and what we’ve seen so far might be the tip of the iceberg.

“Of course the IOC and the whole world wants a successful Olympics. But for that to happen I strongly believe the event needs to be postponed — unless the authorities can guarantee it’ll be business as usual, which I don’t believe they can.”

Learmonth said he expected qualifying events to be hit and called for the Games to be postponed until at least October.

“If the British government are saying the peak is going to hit us around May or June there might not even be any Olympic trials,” Learmonth added.

“I’d be happy if they postponed (the Games) until at least October — or maybe later to 2021 or 2022. At least that would give athletes time to plan, train, and more importantly, time for this virus to settle down.”

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