Olympics

Norway's Olympic body asks IOC to postpone Tokyo Games until pandemic ends

Kyodo

Norway’s Olympic committee said Friday it has asked the International Olympic Committee not to hold this summer’s Tokyo Games until the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee made the request in a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach after discussions with individual sports governing bodies in the country, it said.

Calls from athletes and sports officials for the postponement of the games have mounted in recent days, adding pressure on the IOC, Tokyo organizers and the Japanese government, who have insisted that they plan to hold the games as scheduled.

The president of the Slovenian Olympic Committee, Bogdan Gabrovec, also told national news agency STA on Friday that the Olympics should be pushed back because athletes do not have equal opportunities to prepare for the games, according to Reuters.

“Olympic Games cannot be held in July in line with the Olympic principle,” he said according to the report. “There would be nothing wrong with holding the games in 2021, by then conditions will calm down.”

Meanwhile, USA Swimming, the American governing body of competitive swimming, has also called for the Tokyo Games to be postponed for one year, the Associated Press reported Friday.

In a letter sent Friday to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland, USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey said, “Everyone has experienced unimaginable disruptions, mere months before the Olympic Games, which calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all,” according to the report.

Hinchey also wrote, “Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities.”

The virus pandemic has caused disruptions to the sports calendar, leading to a series of suspensions of Olympic qualifications and test events due to concern about risking the health of athletes and spectators.

The IOC said earlier this week that only about 57 percent of athletes have qualified.

While maintaining its position that it is still too early to decide whether or not to postpone the Olympics, Bach acknowledged Thursday in an interview with The New York Times that the IOC is “considering different scenarios” for the Tokyo Games amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

The International Paralympic Committee said Thursday it planned to proceed with the Tokyo Paralympic Games as scheduled, while acknowledging the difficulties many athletes face as a result of the health crisis.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to be held from July 24 to Aug. 9, followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

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