Tokyo Olympics 2020 To Push Through — Athletes React!

Tokyo Olympics 2020 To Push Through — Athletes React!

What do you have to say about this decision?

When Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto announced on 18 March that this year’s Tokyo Olympics would proceed amidst the current COVID-19 outbreak, there were mixed reactions from organisers, coaches, and athletes alike. 

The decision to push through with the Olympics on its original date of 24 July 2020 was made by the International Olympics Committee (IOC). According to Muto, “That decision has been provided to and agreed upon with all international federations.” Upon making the decision, the Olympic organisers held a conference call with 200 Olympic athletes and committee representatives from around the world.

Reactions against the decision

One table tennis player from the United States named Han Xiao expressed his dismay on the IOC’s insistence that athletes continue their training, despite the city lockdowns and social distancing that nations all over the world are observing. “Is that consistent with your values? Is that how you want to be perceived as a member of global society?”, Xiao said about the Tokyo Olympics organisers in an interview. 

Spain’s Olympic committee head, Alejandro Blanco, supported this sentiment, bringing up the current situation in Spain which inevitably puts their athletes at a disadvantage. “Our sportspeople cannot train, and to celebrate the games (as planned) would result in unequal conditions.” Spain currently has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Europe next to Italy. The country is in a nationwide lockdown. 

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Seyi Smith, the chairman of the Canadian Olympic Athletes’ Commission, reminded everyone of how severe the pandemic has become. “I just want to reiterate with everyone on the call that this is a deadly disease and that secondary deaths and overloading the medical system are the issues here, and we need to take this seriously.”

Voices supporting the IOC

On the other hand, another athlete from Europe seemed to downplay the COVID-19 outbreak by saying, “You have to remember, this is not a deadly disease.” The athlete instead placed more blame on the media for sensationalising the coronavirus. When asked if the Olympics would refrain from welcoming live audiences, IOC Director-General Christopher Kepper replied, “All options are on the table.”

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) also expressed an interesting perspective on the matter, saying that they’d like to place their trust in the IOC for the time being. “The IOC set out two overriding principles for staging the games and guiding their decision making: To protect the health of everyone involved and support the containment of the virus, and to safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport. These principles are guiding the IOC’s decision making over the next four months.” 

The AOC further emphasised how the IOC is receiving the best advice to help gauge the COVID-19 situation and make changes to Olympic plans if necessary. 

Australia’s chef de mission, Ian Chesterman, also shared how important it is to look at the situation through the eyes of a nation’s athletes; athletes, he said, who have trained for several years to have their Olympic moment. “I’m the one who’s been at the coalface with athletes over the last month. I continually get feedback that they want to go to the Games,” he added. 

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There are hundreds of opinions coming from left and right; and right now, it doesn’t seem like we’re close to reaching an agreement anytime soon. But as the Tokyo Olympics approaches, we expect that the Tokyo Olympics committee will stay updated on the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak — so they can make the right call when the time comes, for everyone’s best interest! 

Featured image credit: Tokyo 2020 Official Website

About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.


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