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March 24, 2020

Coe’s letter to Bach on Olympics postponement

Sports

March 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Sebastian Coe, President World Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), on Monday called for the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in a letter addressed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.

The former two times Olympic gold medalist who now heads the IAAF said in his letter, available with ‘The News’, that his subordinate associations were reluctant and had their concerns over the Games going ahead as planned.

The Tokyo Games are scheduled to start from July 24 this year. “Whilst we all know that different parts of the world are at different stages of the virus, the unanimous view across all our Areas is that an Olympic Games in July this year is neither feasible nor desirable for the reasons I have outlined below and have asked that I write to you to request that the Games be moved,” Coe said in the letter.

“First is the issue of competition fairness. Everyone of my Area Presidents believes that we can no longer expect a fair and level playing field in our sport given the number of athletes who are struggling to train in various countries due to measures put in place to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. If we lose the level playing field, then we lose the integrity of the competition. Nobody wants this, least of all the athletes or the fans.

“Second, if athletes are unable to train properly now we both know, as we have both been there, they will push themselves even harder closer to an Olympic Games which will increase the propensity for injury which will have serious effects on athletes next year and possibly longer.

“Third, every Area is witnessing the daily struggles athletes are going through having to choose, if indeed they have a choice, of how and where to train, at what risk to their health and the health of their families and increasingly at the cost of their own emotional wellbeing. The uncertainty of the Olympic Games happening in July and the inherent desire and motivation to excel that resides in all our athletes is causing real anguish that we can, collectively, put a stop to,” said Coe.

The IAAF president praised Bach’s efforts for going into consultation with the National Olympic Committees and international federations around the world. “Thank you for organising the conference with International Sports Federations last week. It was helpful listening to the views of all the sports. I mentioned on the call that I had asked our Area Presidents to talk to all their Federations and, through them, their athletes, so we could get a global picture of how our sport is coping and being impacted by COVID-19,” Coe said.

He admitted in his letter that it was always difficult to think of mega event postponement. “No one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but as I have said publicly, we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, and a decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly. I believe that time has come and we owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can. And in this matter. I believe we can. We are all managing the situation day by day and increasingly hour by hour and I know, like me, you are spending most of your waking hours and probably many of the hours you should be sleeping thinking about this and finding a way through it.”