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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games still on despite growing concerns

By Tom Walker    19 Mar 2020
The Tokyo 2020 Games are set to begin on 24 July / IOC/Tokyo 2020

Japanese officials and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have said that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games "would go ahead as planned", despite the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

While sports events at all levels, from national to international, have been cancelled around the world – including crucial Olympic qualifiers – IOC president Thomas Bach said there was still time to deliver the Games this year.

The Tokyo 2020 Games are set to begin on 24 July.

Over the past weeks, a number of athletes and officials have expressed concerns over the viability of hosting the Games in its current form and dates – with some calling for the event to be rescheduled to later in the year.

Pole vaulting Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi said the IOC was "risking our health", while heptathlete world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson said it had become "impossible" to train at the level needed.

On 17 March, six-time Olympian and member of the IOC Athletes Commission, Hayley Wickenheiser, called to question the IOC's stand on saying that the Games would certainly happen.

“To say for certain they will go ahead is an injustice to the athletes training and global population at large,” Wickenheiser said.

“We need to acknowledge the unknown.”

In response, a day later, the IOC published a statement in which a number of leaders of the regional Olympic committees "showed their support" for Bach's stance.

"The African Olympic and sports movement is convinced that the IOC’s position is the correct one, and welcomes the sense of responsibility shown by its President, Thomas Bach," said Mustapha Berraf, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa.

"He is making considerable efforts to ensure that the Olympic Games are preserved, which is what we all want to happen."

Meanwhile, the cancellations of Olympic qualifiers continue – even in Japan.

On 17 March, the Japan Gymnastics Association announced it would scrap the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup scheduled to take place in Tokyo on 4-5 April. The Olympic test event was supposed to be held without spectators.

Nearly all Olympic sports have seen crucial events being cancelled over the past two months.

Tokyo 2020  Olympic Games  COVID-19  Coronavirus  Thomas Bach 
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