The Coronavirus is having a strong effect worldwide, and sport has not been immune to all the consequences of this terrible pandemic.
After several weeks of uncertainty, the International Olympic Committee decided to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. While no date was announced at first, only days later it was decided that the new dates of the Games would be July 23 to August 8, 2021, while the official name of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games would remain.
The IOC has held numerous video conferences between the National Olympic Committees and the International Federations due to the drastic scheduling changes that must occur throughout 2020 and 2021, with the goal of defining the new sporting calendar for the next few years.
Despite this, the postponement of the Olympic Games has unanimous support from athletes, NOCs, the media and the general public around the world. Panam Sports reached out to a few leaders of sport in the Americas to understand how these changes are affecting their countries and their athletes.
Tricia Smith, Canadian Olympic Committee President and IOC Member:
“With this postponement, the IOC has given Tokyo hopefuls worldwide the clarity they need about the immediate future, so we can all concentrate on our collective health and wellbeing and take all necessary steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We are confident that when the time comes, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee will deliver a world-class Games that celebrates the Olympic and Paralympic values and unites and inspires the world. The Olympic and Paralympic Games have long been a symbol of hope and Tokyo 2020 will be a celebration of all that we now seek to overcome.”
Carlos Padilla, Mexican Olympic Committee President:
“An accurate step has been taken in defining the dates of Tokyo 2020 for athletes and all those involved in participating in our Olympic Games. In addition, great work has been done between the IOC and the International Federations to establish the new Rules for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games once the world has fully overcome the Covid-19 Pandemic. Furthermore, the decision of Olympic Solidarity and Panam Sports to support athletes and NOCs shows their flexibility, making the Operating Rules more amenable to change based on the needs of each NOC and its own programs. The important thing today is to not to let our guard down so we can overcome this crisis, giving us the opportunity to demonstrate our strength as a great Organization with much history and respect.”
Brian Lewis, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee President:
“This is the worst global crisis since World War II. The world is now learning about pandemics the hard way. The unconditional priority is to save lives. The decision taken by the International Olympic Committee was absolutely the right one. It was the right thing to do to postpone the Games. I appreciate and thank the IOC in such difficult circumstances for not cancelling the Games. So while I would have preferred an April or October date because the temperature is cooler and July and August are hot and humid. I believe the IOC has looked at all of the circumstances and made the decision that was the best in the circumstances. So I accept it, and we look forward now to surviving COVID-19 and post COVID-19, preparing for Tokyo 2020.”
Camilo Amado, Panama Olympic Committee President:
“The date change, although surprising, was something where I think the IOC acted very well. They did not rush to make the decision. They spoke for a long time with everyone involved in the largest peaceful event on the planet, as Thomas Bach said. There were many external forces to rush the decision, but they took their time, talked with the Olympic Committees and the athletes and I think they took a very wise decision. Panama fully supports the decision, not only on behalf of the Federations but also of our athletes.”
Camilo Perez, Paraguay Olympic Committee President and IOC Member:
“In due course, the International Olympic Committee postponed the Tokyo Olympics until 2021 as we all know the strong pandemic that the world is facing. It affects a lot, not only the athletes, but all families and the world in general. Apart from our athletes who are not training or have no qualifiers, I think the IOC’s move to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for one year was absolutely correct.”
Paulo Wanderley, Brazilian Olympic Committee President:
“The Brazilian Olympic Committee received with great joy this decision of the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Olympic Games until next year and to maintain the host city of Tokyo. That gives a lot of peace of mind for all of our athletes because now they have a greater opportunity for better preparation and also for our NOC because now we have a defined date and a goal to achieve. We have a focus now, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021.”
Sara Rosario, Puerto Rico Olympic Committee President:
“The new date for the Olympic Games is the most sensible thing we can do so that our athletes can be in their best conditions and that the International Federations can schedule the qualifying processes that are lacking well in advance. Our athletes have been greatly affected physically and mentally by uncertainty, at this time the best athletes in the world are unable to train at their full capacity. Now they can strategize and plan everything for next year. It is the wisest thing to postpone the Olympics to the year 2021.”