A member of the Japanese Olympic Committee has said it’s time to postpone this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, publicly going against the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and it’s recent statement that the plan was for the Games to go on as scheduled.
Kaori Yamaguchi, a former judo world champion, told the Japanese news outlet “Nikkei” that the IOC is “putting athletes at risk”, and that she plans to argue her position when the Japanese Olympic Committee next meets on March 27.
“As far as I can tell from news reports coming out of the U.S. and Europe, I don’t think the situation allows for athletes to continue training as usual,” Yamaguchi said.
The 55-year-old, who is one of the committee’s 23 executive board members, says that as long as the Games are planned to go on as scheduled, the athletes are inclined to train, which puts them at unnecessary risk amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“By asking them to train under these conditions, the IOC is opening itself up the criticism that it is not putting athletes first,” she said.
In its Tuesday press release, the IOC said: “With more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.”
Over the last 24 hours or so we’ve seen prominent figures in the swimming community start to ask for a postponement of the Games. This includes former US Men’s Olympic Head Coach Bob Bowman, former US National Team director Frank Busch, Italian Swimming Federation president Paolo Barelli, and Swimming Australia published a formal statement asking for a “level playing field”, essentially saying that if the Games were to go on in July, that wouldn’t be the case.
2016 US Olympian Jacob Pebley has also called for USA Swimming to postpone the Olympic Trials, which may not happen until the Games are officially moved back.