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March 10, 2020

Olympics ‘could be rescheduled if needed’

P
Pa
March 10, 2020

LONDON: This summer’s Tokyo Olympics could feasibly be rescheduled if the coronavirus outbreak forces a postponement, according to the man in charge of organising the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Uncertainty surrounding the spread of Covid-19 has led to speculation that this summer’s Games — set to begin on July 24 — could be affected.Ian Reid, chief executive of Birmingham 2022, knows how logistically difficult that would prove, but he insists the event could be rearranged if the various stakeholders worked together to find a solution. “It (Coronavirus) brings huge challenges,” Reid told the PA news agency.

“We feel for our colleagues in Tokyo, who face challenges with everything from the athletes’ village availability, sponsors, broadcasting schedules, to the issue of athletes scheduled to compete in other events. Of course it’s hugely difficult, which I think is why the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 will do everything they can to make sure that those Games go ahead.”

He added: “It’s not in anybody’s interest to move those dates, but clearly people’s health is much more important than sports. So if that has to happen, I’m sure they would find a way to do it and people will pull together to make that work. But it is challenging.”

Olympic 1500 metres hopeful Sarah McDonald is in an unusual predicament as she has built her schedule around preparing for Tokyo. But the Birmingham-based runner, who attended the launch of a Commonwealth Games countdown clock in the city on Monday, is trying to remain focused.

She said: “Obviously I think about it, but I’ve taken a stance at the moment that I have to prepare as if Tokyo is going to go ahead in July, with the trials going ahead in June. There’s no other way to think about it, otherwise you just wouldn’t be ready. So I’m just getting ready to go ahead as normal and we’ll wait to hear, really. It’s hard, but you’ve just got to ignore it.”

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the lighting ceremony for the Olympic flame in Olympia, Greece, will take place without spectators to limit the spread of the virus.Greece’s Olympic committee made the decision on Monday, which was welcomed by Tokyo 2020 organisers.

“Tokyo 2020 is grateful for the efforts of all parties involved to ensure that the ceremony will take place while taking into consideration the latest countermeasures by the Hellenic Government against Covid-19,” a statement read.

“As part of Tokyo 2020’s commitment to delivering a safe and secure torch relay, the organising committee will reduce the size of its travelling delegation as much as possible, and will take every consideration for protecting public health as Tokyo 2020 participates in the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame.”