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'To train for these Games clearly puts their physical and mental health at risk'

Athletes from several sports have criticised the IOC’s advice that they continue to prepare for the Games “as best they can”.

Image: PA

GLOBAL ATHLETE HAS added its voice to those calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed this summer due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The IOC sparked controversy earlier this week by insisting it remains “fully committed” to the planned start date of July 24 despite the pandemic having brought sporting events around the globe to a standstill in the past couple of weeks.

Athletes from several sports have criticised the IOC’s advice that they continue to prepare for the Games “as best they can” given the huge disruption already caused.

Now Global Athlete, an athlete-led movement, has joined the likes of US Track and Field and the Spanish Football Federation in saying the Games should be delayed.

A statement said: “Athletes want to be part of a solution to ensure the Games are a success but under the current global restrictions that are limiting public gatherings as well as closing training facilities and borders, athletes do not have the ability to appropriately prepare for these Games and their health and safety must come first.

“Sport has a duty of care to protect their athletes. Public health must be a priority over sporting event.

“By asking (athletes) to carry on as normal and continue to train for these Games clearly puts their physical and mental health at risk.”

The statement further called on broadcasters and sponsors to show “flexibility and understanding” in allowing the Games to be staged safely.

On Saturday, US Track and Field sent an email calling for the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to make representations about delaying the Games as the “right and responsible thing to do” in the circumstances.

USA Swimming, meanwhile, had already asked the USOPC to push for a one-year postponement as the impact of the lockdown began to hit home.

The Spanish Football Federation also called for this summer’s Olympics to be postponed.

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, steered clear of the debate but said: “I’m delighted that’s not my decision.

“It’s an incredibly hard call in terms of the scale of those two events (Olympics and Paralpympics) against the reality of the situation we find ourselves in.”

But Hollingsworth did praise the way that UK governing bodies had responded.

“I speak to the leaders of the governing bodies, every single one of them is making the absolutely correct difficult decision,” said Hollingsworth.

“In the normal course of life these events would be a high point in the calendar, in reality against the situation we have all got to take a completely different view.

“We are all missing it but let’s be real, it’s not the priority, it will come back and we’ll love it all the more.”

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