Quadrennial measure under pressure

Published on March 22nd, 2020

The Summer Olympic Games have only been cancelled due to war, but the current world health crisis is proving to be just as disrupting.

The stoppage of qualifying events, the inability for athletes to properly train, and the mounting uncertainty has the International Olympic Committee (IOC) under fire. With nearly every professional sporting event cancelled or postponed, how can Tokyo 2020 proceed as planned on July 24?

What began as media inquiries has now increased in scope.

After Olympic officials from Spain and France called for postponement, Kaori Yamaguchi, a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s executive board, publicly broke ranks with the IOC, telling a Japanese news outlet that she believes it is time to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Also joining the chorus was USA Swimming and USA Track and Field, with these medal-winning sports federations putting pressure on the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to call for Tokyo 2020 to be postponed.

“Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities,” said USA Swimming. “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.”

As the face of the IOC, President Thomas Bach emphatically said that a cancellation was not on the agenda in an interview with a German television and radio outlet on March 21. Bach’s plea was for more time and patience for the IOC to make the best decision.

Among the complications with postponement is that the housing that makes up the current athletes’ village has already been sold. With 11,000 athletes, coaches, and officials descending upon the city, finding space to house them without the village is a major complication.

However, with this snowball growing in size, the IOC released two statements on March 22, clarifying that postponement was an option and how they sought to have firm plans within four weeks:

Public Statement:
To safeguard the health of all involved and to contribute to the containment of COVID-19, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that the IOC will step up its scenario-planning for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Full report.

Athlete Statement:
In this unprecedented crisis we are all united.

Like you, we are very much concerned about what the COVID-19 pandemic is doing to people’s lives. Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games. The IOC wants to be part of the solution. Therefore we have made it our leading principle to safeguard the health of everyone involved, and to contribute to containing the virus. I would like to assure you that we will adhere to this in all our decisions concerning the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Full report.

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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