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Coronavirus: ‘No need for any drastic decisions’ on Tokyo, say International Olympic Committee

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has today (17 March) said that there is “no need for any drastic decisions at this stage” with regard to the running of the Olympic Games in Tokyo (24 July-9 August) and the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC has today consulted with the international Olympic summer sports federations and in the coming days will continue consultations with more stakeholders.

“The IOC will continue to act as a responsible organisation,” said the IOC statement. “In this context, the IOC asks all its stakeholders within their own remits to do everything to contribute to the containment of the virus.

“This is an unprecedented situation for the whole world, and our thoughts are with all those affected by this crisis. We are in solidarity with the whole of society to do everything to contain the virus.

“The situation around the COVID-19 virus is also impacting the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and is changing day by day.

“The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.”

The IOC has agreed two overriding principles about the staging of the Games: to protect the health of everyone involved and to support the containment of the virus, and to safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport.

A task force was set up in mid-February – consisting of the IOC, the World Health Organisation, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government – to ensure coordinated actions by all stakeholders and constantly appraise the situation to form the basis for ongoing operational planning and necessary adaptations.

“The IOC will continue to follow the guidance of this task force,” said the statement. “The IOC’s decision will not be determined by financial interests, because thanks to its risk management policies and insurance it will in any case be able to continue its operations and accomplish its mission to organise the Olympic Games.”

Changes have already been made to some test events, the Torch Relay and visits and meetings around the Games preparation.

The IOC encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympics as best they can, but acknowledges that there are challenges around securing final qualifications in some sports and that some athletes are finding it hard to train.

“To date, 57 per cent of the athletes are already qualified for the Games. For the remaining 43 per cent of places, the IOC will work with the international federations to make any necessary and practical adaptations to their respective qualification systems for Tokyo 2020,” said the statement, which went on to detail the principles which any changes will follow.

In horse sport, nations have already secured their team and individual places at the Olympics, but many individual athletes still have to gain their personal qualifications to allow them compete at the Games. The suspension of horse sport around the globe could make this difficult within the original prescribed timeframe.

Any necessary revisions to the Tokyo 2020 qualification systems by sport will be published by the beginning of April.

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IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The health and well-being of all those involved in the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is our number-one concern. All measures are being taken to safeguard the safety and interests of athletes, coaches and support teams. We are an Olympic community; we support one another in good times and in difficult times. This Olympic solidarity defines us as a community.”

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