An international athlete group is urging the International Olympic Committee to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The organization, Global Athlete, said in a news release issued Sunday that the IOC and International Paralympic Committee need “to place athlete safety and welfare first by postponing the Games until the Covid-19 global pandemic is under control.”
Opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Games are scheduled for July 24.
“As the world unites to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus the IOC and IPC must do the same. To date both organizations have told athletes to continue to train and prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“Athletes want to be part of a solution to ensure the Games are a success but under the current global restrictions that are limiting public gatherings as well as closing training facilities and borders, athletes do not have the ability to appropriately prepare for these Games and their health and safety must come first.”
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 318,000 people around the world had been diagnosed with the disease, with nearly 13,700 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Global Athlete describes itself on its website as an ”athlete-led movement that will inspire and lead positive change in world sport.”
“We all recognize the Games provided a unique ability to bring together countries and unite a divided world. That is why waiting is so important. With meaningful collective athlete engagement, a future Games could act as a celebration showcasing that we all did our part in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Global Athlete calls on the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee to postpone the Games until the Covid-19 Global Pandemic is under control @iocmedia @paralympics @Olympics pic.twitter.com/DG7b1Tsi1N
— Global Athlete (@GlobalAthleteHQ) March 22, 2020
On Saturday, about 300 American athletes took part in a virtual town hall with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to discuss the situation. According to USA Today, 41 percent of the athletes participating said they thought the Games shouldn’t be held this summer, with another 34 percent saying they wanted more information.
The committee also is asking 4,000 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls through a survey how the pandemic has affected their training and what they believe should happen with the Games, USA Today said.
In comments made a few days ago, both IOC president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said cancellation currently is not in the plans but neither would commit to a potential postponement of the Games.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)