Tokyo (dpa) – The worldwide outcry against the scheduled hosting of the Olympic Games in Tokyo has now also been heard in Japan.
“We are not stupid to host the Olympic Games as planned,” said Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, at a press conference. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also speaks of a shift given the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is difficult to hold games under these circumstances, we have to decide on a postponement, with the health of the athletes being the top priority,” said Abe. The final decision, however, rests with the International Olympic Committee, which has set a period of four weeks for this. The host signaled the willingness to move away from the Tokyo appointment, but not from the torch relay: The should start Thursday in Fukushima.
Many athletes are pushing for a faster decision and an end to the hanging game, such as javelin throwing Olympic champion Thomas Röhler. Four weeks is “a very, very long period,” said the Jenaer in the morning magazine of ARD and ZDF. “We are currently working on making faster, more precise decisions,” said the athlete representative in the World Athletics Association. World Athletics is ready to postpone the 2021 World Cup to Eugene / USA if the Tokyo games are relocated to next year.
The sports committee chairwoman of the Bundestag criticized the four-week deadline and the IOC. “I find the decision disrespectful to the athletes and irresponsible in view of the situation in the world,” said Dagmar Freitag (SPD) in an interview with the HR information radio. This delayed tactic produces “a massive loss of trust” and shows “a blatant leadership failure”.
In a personal email to the athletes, IOC President Thomas Bach again apologized for understanding that a final decision about an appointment for the Tokyo Games – a shift to autumn, next year or until 2021 – would be premature now . “I know that this unprecedented situation leaves many of your questions unanswered,” wrote the 66-year-old German. “I also know that this rational approach may not match the emotions that many of you have to go through.”
Canada’s Olympic Committee (COC) increased pressure on the IOC and announced that it would not send athletes this summer due to the Corona crisis. “This is not a boycott,” said communications director Photi Sotiropoulos of the German press agency. The Canadian Paralympic Committee also chose the Paralympics. The Australians also excluded participation at the original time. Norway had announced that it would only start at the Olympics after the pandemic ended.
Martin Engelhardt, doctor and president of the German Triathlon Union, on the other hand, understands the hesitant stance of the IOC. He can understand this to some extent, said the DTU boss of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. “From a medical-technical point of view, it cannot be said today that sports will not be possible in July,” said Engelhard. In contrast, Thomas Kurschilgen, competitive sports director of the German swimmers, said: “There are many reasons to postpone the appointment.”
The German Olympic Sports Confederation will discuss its possible associations with the Tokyo games in a conference call on Tuesday evening. In addition, a vote initiated by the DOSB of around 600 athletes qualified for the Olympics or potential candidates is running, whether they want to take part in the games as planned or take part in an alternative date.