Gold medalist Skinner slams IOC's Bach's "arrogance"

(Reuters) - Britain’s Olympic gold medal track cyclist Callum Skinner has attacked International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach’s decision to wait up to a month to make a decision on the 2020 Tokyo Games.

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“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,” Skinner, who won gold and silver in the 2016 Rio Games, wrote on Twitter.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese government had on Sunday and Monday slightly shifted their position that the Games would start as planned on July 24, announcing a month-long consultation over other “scenarios”.

Canada and Australia responded by saying they would not be sending athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if the Games went ahead as scheduled this year.

Skinner is a member of the Global Athlete group, which aims to help athletes raise their voices in world sport, and that body, who have called for the Games to be postponed, issued a statement on Monday, strongly criticizing the IOC’s decision.

“Such a response is unacceptable, irresponsible, and once again ignores the rights of athletes,” they said.

“Over the next four weeks the world is going to increasingly shut down, the Covid-19 virus will sadly take more lives, and without a clear answer, athletes are still being indirectly asked to train.

“If anyone knows how competitive athletes work, they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. We understand it is a difficult decision, but the IOC and IPC (International Paralympic Committee) have a duty of care toward athletes which they have not exercised.

“A clear message should have been sent to all athletes to stop training and observe government mandates to self-isolate. Sport should never be prioritized ahead of public health.”

In an interview with Reuters before the IOC decision, Skinner had said there was a misconception about health and athletes.

“I think it’s quite often misunderstood that athletes, especially Olympic athletes, are some kind of superheroes that are immune to everything. We’re not and we can suffer from illnesses and injuries just as much as anyone else,” he said.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge