Tokyo 2020 is losing its relevance

Published on March 20th, 2020

The uncertainty about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on July 24-August 9 amid the international health crisis has all athletes in limbo on how to prepare for the biggest event in sport.

“It is obviously positive that the IOC are trying to lift everyone’s morale by saying no changes are planned but that’s just not practical advice,” Somalian boxing star Ramla Ali told insidethegames. “I can’t find any gyms in London that are staying open, nor can I find any sparring which is basically the main essential to training in boxing.

“I had a warm-up tournament planned, booked and paid for, which is cancelled along with all other warm-up comps. My qualifiers in May in Paris have been cancelled with no date or location of rescheduling at the moment. Basically it’s impossible to train properly for both the qualifiers and the Games.”

With non-essential travel as now the minimum standard, and regions beginning to initiate shelter-in-place orders, the decision for the IOC is becoming less about the status of the health crisis in July, but rather the status of the athletes now.

This is the position as USA Swimming wants the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed by a year, according to a letter written to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

“Everyone has experienced unimaginable disruptions, mere months before the Olympic Games, which calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all,” wrote USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey.

“Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities. … There are no perfect answers, and this will not be easy; however, it is a solution that provides a concrete path forward and allows all athletes to prepare for a safe and successful Olympic Games in 2021.”

IOC President Thomas Bach has said the organization is “not living in a bubble or on another planet” over its insistence this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo will go ahead as planned, and claims “different scenarios” are being considered.

In an interview with The New York Times, Bach gave assurances that the IOC is firmly in touch with reality.

“We are affected by this crisis like everyone else and we are concerned like everybody else,” he said.

Asked whether there is a group working out what would be needed to move Tokyo 2020 to a later date, Bach added: “This would mean we are speculating about developments. We don’t know what the situation will be.

“Of course we are considering different scenarios, but we are contrary to many other sports organizations or professional leagues in that we are four and a half months away from the Games.

“They are even more optimistic than we are, because most of them have postponed their events until April or the end of May. We are talking about the end of July.”

Yes, but the athletes are talking about now, and now has an impact on how they compete in July, and the concern is how their life’s work will not be well-represented.

Editor’s note: While the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is not ready yet to call on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympics, the USOPC continues to lose support by its own sports federation. After USA Swimming publicly called for action, USA Track and Field is now calling for a postponement too.


TOKYO 2020 Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Olympic schedule: July 24 – Aug 9
Sailing schedule: July 26 – Aug 6
Details: https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/schedule/olympic/

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