(Adds Dick Pound quote, comments from officials)
March 23 (Reuters) - Reaction to Canada’s and Australia’s withdrawal from 2020 Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound:
“That’s my conclusion (there will be a postponement of the Olympics) from reading IOC speak in the communication,” Pound told Reuters on Monday.
Pound was speaking the day after an IOC statement saying it was stepping up “scenario planning” in the next four weeks including a possible postponement of the Games.
“If you are going to cancel you simply cancel because there are no plans but if you are going to carry on with the orginal objective there is no reason to issue a communication because you have already done that over the past several weeks.
“Probably what turned the tide in the last couple of days is the curve on the COVID-19 virus.
“It is getting very, very steep now and this is clearly not something that is going to be under control by June or July and probably not by the end of the year.”
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Paralympic Committee (CPC) said: “The COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year and we offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring.”
The Australian Olympic Committee said: “The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) says Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOC’s announcement of a potential postponement of this year’s Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe.”
Paralympics Australia said: “Paralympics Australia is wholly supportive of a postponement of the Paralympic Games in the best interests of public health, both here and abroad. It is hard to see another option.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said if holding the Games in their “complete form” became impossible, “we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games, given the Olympic principle of putting the health of athletes first”.
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) said: “We view as unacceptable any attempts to bring pressure on the organizations in charge responsible of staging the Games and to force them to take rash decisions.
“Panic is the worst what can happen in the current situation. The ROC urges all the representatives of the sports community to keep Olympic calm, to act systematically and constructively while preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games...”
Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos told Reuters: “The IOC needs to take a quick decision on the matter. I understand where the athletes are coming from... When you cannot train you are stressed, you live in agony which is disastrous.
“Postponement is inevitable because things change so quickly every day. No one wants cancellation but I don’t see how the Games could be held in July. The faster the decision the better it is for the entire Olympic movement.”
Israel Association of Baseball president Peter Kurz told Reuters: “We are not calling for a postponement, our players will be ready. We propose that the IOC wait until the middle of May to make a final decision.”
Portugal’s Olympic Athletes Commission: “In a survey completed by 74 of the 89 Portuguese athletes due to attend the Tokyo 2020 Games, 89% feel the event should be postponed to 2021.
“82% think keeping the games at their current date would not be fair from a sporting perspective.”
British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Hugh Robertson said: “If the virus continues as predicted by the government... I don’t think there’s any way that we could send a team ... I suspect that we’ll be joining Canada and Australia shortly.”
The Portuguese Olympic Committee: IOC’s request to athletes to continue preparing “puts great pressure on athletes at a moment when general guidelines from global health authorities insists on the importance of people staying at home.”
French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia said: “The moment the IOC indicates that it’s thinking about other solutions, it has already decided to delay the game ... The IOC has come under a lot of criticism, although it has never said it wanted to maintain the Games at any cost.”
The Spanish Olympic Committee said: “We have always said that the Tokyo 2020 Games should be held in equal conditions for everyone, something which is not possible in the current situation.”
“We hope that, in the interests of the athletes, the definitive date of the Games is declared as soon as possible.”
Christopher Samuda, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), said: “If we do not get the opinions of the experts that it (the virus outbreak) is being managed and that the risk has been minimised, we must take a decision in the interest of our athletes and then say we will not be participating.”
Austria’s Sports Minister Werner Kogler: “43% of all starting places have not yet been allocated, and the organisation of the qualifying competitions is highly uncertain.
“As Minister for Sport, I welcome Canada’s courageous step and, in the interests of the health of all participants, coaches and spectators, I am urging for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.”
Poland’s Olympic Committee said: “The Polish Olympic Committee calls on the International Olympic Committee to change the date and as soon as possible to decide on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”
The Dutch Olympic Committee said: “We will not send any athletes if their health is not guaranteed. For this we will take binding advice from the World Health Organization, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
The acting chief executive of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, Ravi Govender, told Reuters: “We don’t think that cancelling the Olympics should be the first point of call. It can be postponed to a safer time, it can be postponed to a time when the world has taken charge of this virus or completely destroyed it.”
Swimming’s world governing body FINA said: “Following the IOC’s decision to further consider the impacts of COVID-19 on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, FINA has offered its full support for this process on the basis that public health and wellbeing must be our global priority at this unprecedented time.”
The Egyptian Olympic Committee’s president, Hisham Hatab, told Reuters: “We’re ready for all possibilities, we’re preparing for participation as if the Olympics will be held tomorrow... If the Olympics is postponed for a month or two or more, then we are always ready to participate.”
Five-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, who was an early critic of IOC’s plan to press ahead with the Tokyo Games, said: “Very proud of (Canadian flag) this evening.”
Canadian world champion swimmer Maggie MacNeil, who is hoping to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo, said: “Sometimes you just need a good hug... I know that it is in the best interest of the athletes and society. The right choice was made, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”
Canadian hurdler Sage Watson, the reigning Pan American champion in the 400 metres hurdles, said: “I believe in the safety of our lives but this is premature.”
Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold, a two-time Pan American Games champion, said on Twitter: “Staying healthy right now is the No. 1 priority for everyone. I will continue to do the training that I can and do my part in keeping my community and family safe.”
Former U.S. Olympian Lolo Jones said: “YESSSSSS CANADA!!!!!!! pulls out of OLYMPICS UNLESS IOC POSTPONE!!! OUR HEALTH IS MORE important than sport. Hopefully the UNITED STATES is next.”
British Olympic and world champion swimmer Adam Peaty said: “So the Canadians have pulled out of the Olympics and the Australians said they won’t travel if the Olympics are held this summer, @WorldAthletics have also put pressure on IOC to move. Let’s hope @fina1908 do the right thing in the next few days, not weeks.”
British cycling Olympic champion Callum Skinner, who fronts competitor-led movement Global Athlete, said: “IOC President Thomas Bach’s stubbornness and arrogance has spectacularly failed in this instance and he has weakened the Olympic movement.
“This isn’t the first time he has put his own motives above the athletes and the movement.” (Compiled by Ian Ransom, Hardik Vyas, Sudipto Ganguly, Rohith Nair and Andreas Mortensen; Editing by Lincoln Feast/Peter Rutherford/Timothy Heritage/Ken Ferris)