IOC Chair Kirsty Coventry: “Athletes Want The Olympic Games To Continue”

Retta Race
by Retta Race 49

March 19th, 2020 News

Olympic swimmer-turned-Zimbabwean Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts & Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, posted a statement concerning the most recent meeting of the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission.

As Chairperson of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Coventry’s video posted via Twitter below thanks the over 220 athlete representatives from around the world, as well as IOC President Thomas Bach and IOC experts and who took part in the over 2-hour call conducted yesterday, March 18th.

Per Coventry’s message, during the call athletes expressed concern for Olympic qualification in light of dozens of key competitions across all of sport being cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide outbreak.

However, Coventry says she finds it encouraging that athletes ‘want the Games to continue’ for July and implores them to ‘keep doing what they’re doing.’

The statement about the Olympic Games continuing struck a nerve with several fellow athletes, including Brazilian Bruno Fratus, 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the men’s 50m freestyle.

“Kirsty, as a fellow swimmer and Olympian I’d urge you to reconsider and consult with some other athletes around the world. Not sure if you’re aware of the many athletes like myself incapable of even training,” reads one of three responses from Fratus.

“Also, the advice of “keep doing what you’re doing” seems disconnected with reality when we have world leaders daily on television asking people to stay home and isolate ourselves.”

Finally, Fratus opines, “Postponing the Olympic Games would not only give the world peace of mind but also allow that everyone could prepare properly, ensure fairness and maintain the technical level of the competition. Much love from Brazil #tokyo2021.”

You can read the Twitter thread below.

Zimbabwe’s most-decorated athlete, Coventry collected 7 Olympic medals, including back-to-back 200m backstroke gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Games. She also was a mainstay on the World Championships scene, competing at every edition from 2000 through 2016. In Rio, Coventry acted as flag bearer and went on to place 11th in the 100m backstroke and 6th in the 200m backstroke.

Since retiring from competitive swimming after the 2016 Rio Olympics, Coventry has been active on the administration side of sports internationally. In February 2018, Coventry was appointed Chairperson of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and has previously served on the Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as well as a member of the WADA Athletic Committee.

She was appointed Zimbabwe’s Minister of Sport in the fall of 2018.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Swammer — who is Jacob? I went through the whole string and found none.

2 years ago

I am not here to comment on whether the games or trials should go on. I just want to say that in an age of negativity, Jacob expressed an opinion he felt is in the best interest of his community by citing facts and vetted data. He did not take swings at anyone and kept it very fact-based. This is what we want our young people to do in these times ! You can agree with him or disagree but try to leave the negativity out of it. Let’s allow young people and others, to express themselves and feel supported. Jacob and the rest of the swimmers in question (whether you feel they are likely to make the team or… Read more »

David Berkoff
2 years ago

Wow. Completely out of touch in so few years! C’Mon Kristy, ask any contender for 2020. They almost all say delay! Get with reality!

2 years ago

So if you postpone a year what happens to the ones who have qualified already? I’m thinking of specifically open water, but lots of other countries have already qualified athletes and teams in many sports. A year is a long time to count on current selections. What a mess.

Tea rex
2 years ago

Hate to say it, but I agree with Bruno.

1. The facilities will still be there.
2. Football (soccer) has 2 teams of 11 players on the field. Hard to practice where gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.
3. Olympics with no spectators would suck. Olympics where all the spectators get sick would suck. It doesn’t look like a “test everyone coming into Tokyo” solution is realistic.
4. For swimming fans, it might actually be better. Sure, some people might shine on the brightest stage (Lezak), but others might do better at a local pool with no pageantry (C1). Swimming is one of the few sports so standardized you could do a “virtual meet“… Read more »

2 years ago

Sigh… but also this is not the first time her opinion seems to be at odd with other active athletes.

Horns up
2 years ago

Not only are swimmers most affected in terms of being facility dependent but also Specific training dependent. A basketball player can go 2 weeks without a court and truly be fine. A swimmer with the right taper may be capable of a record breaking swim but without that pool to train in and taper will perform completely differently.

2 years ago

Bruno, please check the news reports about the ubiquity of Covid-19. There is currently no medication and no vaccine. Some young people have died from this virus. You would be playing Russian roulette. Think about your geolocation in July.

Reply to  Camille
2 years ago

Uh, go read what he said before you criticize him…

Reply to  Camille
2 years ago

you mean Kristy?

This is really kind of sad that when the world is bracing for this health crisis and asking every one to help slow down the spread of this pandemic, an ex-Olympian openly tells other athletes and coaches to ignore health directive.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

Read More »