Blow as Tokyo Games put on hold, re­lief for ath­letes

Pretoria News - - METRO - See Sport

THE Tokyo Olympics have been post­poned to 2021, the first such de­lay in the event’s 124-year mod­ern his­tory, as the coro­n­avirus cri­sis wrecked the last global sport­ing show­piece still stand­ing this year.

Though a huge blow to Ja­pan, which in­vested $12 bil­lion (R211bn) in the run-up, the de­ci­sion was a re­lief to thou­sands of ath­letes fret­ting over how to train as the world headed into lock­down to fight a dis­ease that has claimed more than 17 260 lives.

Pres­sure had been build­ing on the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and its pres­i­dent, Thomas Bach, with some ath­letes and sport­ing bod­ies an­gry that a seem­ingly in­evitable de­ci­sion had taken so long.

Af­ter a call between Bach and Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, both par­ties an­nounced the July 24 to Au­gust 9 com­pe­ti­tion would be resched­uled for the sum­mer of 2021.

“We and pres­i­dent Bach agreed that we keep co-op­er­at­ing with each other, so that the Tokyo Olympics and Par­a­lympics will be held in a com­plete form as proof that hu­man be­ings have beaten the coro­n­avirus,” Abe said.

Though it was the first Olympics’ post­pone­ment, they were can­celled out­right three times dur­ing the two 20th-cen­tury world wars. Ma­jor Cold War boy­cotts also dis­rupted the Moscow and Los An­ge­les Games in 1980 and 1984.

In a crowded sport­ing cal­en­dar, which will be mak­ing up for this year’s can­cel­la­tions, World Ath­let­ics said it was willing to move its world cham­pi­onships, sched­uled for Au­gust 6 to 15, 2021, in Ore­gon, to clear a path for the Olympics.

The Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion said a poll of more than 4 000 track and field com­peti­tors in­di­cated 78% wanted the Games de­layed. | Reuters

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