IOC says no ‘ideal’ solution for Olympics as athletes voice virus concerns
TOKYO: Olympic chiefs acknowledged Wednesday there was no "ideal" solution to staging the Tokyo Olympics in response to a growing number of athletes expressing concern as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe.
Football's European Championship and the Copa America have been postponed for a year, but the International Olympic Committee says it is "fully committed" to holding the Games from July 24 as scheduled.
"This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions," an IOC spokesperson said after criticism from top athletes that they would be forced to take health risks should the Games go ahead.
"The IOC is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes' health," the spokesperson continued.
"No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes."
Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi and Britain's world champion heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson both voiced concerns at the IOC's stance.
Stefanidi, one of Greece's most prominent athletes, was scheduled to hand the ceremonial flame to Japanese officials before the Greek leg of the torch relay was scrapped over COVID-19, which has more than 200,000 cases and 8,092 deaths across 150 countries and territories as of 1300 GMT Wednesday.
"The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family's health and public health to train every day?" Stefanidi tweeted.
"You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months."
- 'Zero risk consideration' -
On Tuesday, minutes before the IOC statement that it was pressing ahead with its preparations, Euro 2020 was delayed for a year, bowing to the crisis that has paralysed Europe and drastically curtailed international travel.
Olympic qualifying tournaments are among the swathe of sports events that have been cancelled or postponed. Only 57 percent of athletes have booked their places so far.
"It's unbelievable," said Stefanidi. "What about team sports that have to train together? What about swimming? What about gymnastics, that they touch the same objects?
"There is zero consideration of the risk they are putting us in right now."
French swimming federation president Gilles Sezionale expressed his disappointment at the IOC "evoking the possible continuation of the Games".
"I am devastated by so many inconsistencies when we should today devote ourselves solely to the epidemic to save lives!" - AFP