March 23, 2020 / 4:58 PM / 6 days ago

Olympics-Unsafe for Tokyo Games to go ahead, says London 2012 safety boss

March 23 (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) must postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games because they cannot be safely staged during the coronavirus pandemic, London 2012’s head of health and safety Lawrence Waterman said on Monday.

Also, the need for precautions against coronavirus such as social distancing and self isolation means groups of people cannot be safely assembled to test the venues for crowd control, he added.

Organisers face global pressure to postpone the Games for the first time in their 124-year modern history due to the coronavirus crisis, and major sporting nations Australia and Canada have already announced their withdrawal.

Japan has over 1,800 confirmed cases with 49 deaths.

“These games need to be postponed, and the sooner the IOC and the Japanese government face up to this the better. It’s simply not safe to put the games on during a global pandemic,” Waterman said in a statement.

“People’s safety and health should come before the costs of delaying contracts. The London Games were the first in history to be completed without a single fatality, we set the standard on health and safety at the Olympics.

“Key to that is testing venues with real crowds to iron out problems. That’s simply not possible if people are to be two metres apart.”

Many nations’ Olympic committees have also called for the postponement of the Games until the situation around the world stabilises.

Infections have been reported by 192 countries outside China, where the virus originated. More than 337,000 people have been infected across the world and over 14,600 have died.

“The coronavirus is requiring big sacrifices from us all. The IOC should be no exception,” Waterman added.

“However much they want to see the red carpet rolled out for them in Tokyo, the only responsible thing is to postpone the games. They should do so now.” (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean)

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