With almost four months before the Tokyo Olympics get underway, demands are growing by the day to cancel the mega event in wake of the deadly coronavirus. However, International Athletics Association Federation (IAAF) chief Sebastian Coe has advised against knee-jerk reaction as it’s a decision that can be made later. Also Read - Viral Video: Deer Runs Across Empty Street in Dehradun Amid Coronavirus Lockdown
The COVID-19 pandemic continues with Italy’s death-toll surpassing that of China where the virus is alleged to have first emerged. Globally, over 2,40,000 have been infected by the disease and close to 10,000 reported deaths so far. Also Read - Have to Resist Urge to go Out: Chesteshwar Pujara on Lockdown Amid COVID-19
Countries across the globe are advising citizens to avoid getting out in public unless absolutely necessary with Italy, France and Spain in complete lockdown. The ban on large public gatherings has led to sporting events including various Olympic qualifiers being first played behind closed doors before being cancelled. Also Read - Viral: Police Dresses up as Coronavirus to Create Awareness in Chennai | Watch
With the coronavirus affecting the qualification process and preparations of athletes for the Olympics, the organisers are facing the heat for reiterating that the Games will start as per original schedule.
“Let’s not make a precipitous decision when we don’t have to four months out,” Coe told BBC. “If you had to ease that date, you’d have to ease it. Anything is possible.”
Coe feels that it’s a fast changing environment and there’s not enough information to make a decision at the moment. “Events are changing by the hour but it is not a decision that has to be made at the moment. We’re trying to manage the situation with the information we have but there is not a great deal of information,” he said.
With the Euro 2020 Championships postponed by a year and World Athletics Championships scheduled for 2021, pushing the Olympics back a year also is impractical.
“It seems on the surface an easy proposition but athletics has its worlds on that date, the Euros in football have been moved back a year. The sporting calendar is a complicated matrix and it is not easy to move from one year to the next. It would be ridiculous to say anything is ruled out at the moment. The whole world wants clarity; we’re no different from any other sector,” he said.
Coe, who was the head of the 2012 London Olympics organising committee, says the financial aspects should also be kept in mind. “In athletics we’ve postponed three Diamond League meetings but not all, because we don’t have to make that decision. Everybody accepts this is a fast-moving environment. I need to be careful I’m not removing the earning potential from athletes any more than I need to at this moment,” he said.