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by Matt de Neef
March 23, 2020
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has advised Australian athletes to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be postponed until “the northern summer of 2021”.
In a statement published Monday, the AOC said that the continuing threat from COVID-19 means that athlete health is now the main priority and that “an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad.”
AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said Monday’s announcement would help provide some certainty for athletes who have been in limbo in recent months.
“We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams, and managing their own programs,” Carroll said. “With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation.
“The IOC had adopted the key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport. This decision reflects those principles. We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty.”
Today’s AOC announcement follows news from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Sunday that it is considering “the scenario of postponement” with regard to the Tokyo Olympics. It is the first such admission from an organisation that, until now, has remained committed to the Games starting on July 24, even as various sports and countries have called for the Games to be postponed.
“It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July,” said Australia’s Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Games. “Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them. They have also shouldered the burden of concern for their peers around the world. That has been a consistent message to me.
“While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control.
“We are aware that for many such a postponement will present a range of new issues. But when the world does come together at the Tokyo Olympic Games they can be a true celebration of sport and humanity.”
The IOC believes it will have reached a decision on the fate of the Toyko Olympics within four weeks. It has said that an outright cancellation is not on the cards.