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'Preserving human life is most important thing right now'

March 25, 2020 08:34 IST
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A 3D printed Olympics logo is seen in front of displayed "Tokyo 2021" words in this illustration taken March 24, 2020

Athletes, national associations and sporting federations from around the world reacted with a mixture of sadness, relief and mainly goodwill to the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After weeks of speculation and mounting criticism at the delay in announcing a postponement, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach agreed the event would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021 at the latest.

It is the first break in the four-year cycle for the summer Olympics since the 1940 and 1944 Games were cancelled because of World War Two.

Here are some reactions to the decision:

IMAGE:  Japan's PM Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach agreed the event would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

IOC President Thomas Bach:

"This Olympic flame will be the light at the end of the tunnel."

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons:

"Postponing the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak is absolutely the right thing to do. The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sport event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible.


"Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is."

US Olympic and Paralympic CEO Sarah Hirshland in a message to athletes:

"Despite the feeling of eventuality that so many of us have felt in the lead up to this moment -- my heart breaks for you, your fellow athletes around the world, our friends at Tokyo 2020, the people of Japan, and all who are impacted by this global pandemic and the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games 2020.

"This summer was supposed to be a culmination of your hard work and life's dream, but taking a step back from competition to care for our communities and each other is the right thing to do. Your moment will wait until we can gather again safely."

Italian wheelchair fencer Beatrice Vio:

"We dreamed of them for so long... then suddenly everything resets. I'm sad, of course, but rightly so. Let's not complain about the lost time and let's not forget who, now and in the next few days, will fight to not lose something bigger."

International Hockey Federation CEO Thierry Weil

"The message of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch that "Hope Lights Our Way" could not be more pertinent at this time. We look forward to outstanding Olympic Games in Tokyo next year!"

Andy Anson, CEO British Olympic Association (BOA):

"It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement, but in all consciousness it is the only decision we can support, in light of the devastating impact (of) COVID-19.

"It is time for them to stop thinking about Tokyo 2020 for now and be home and safe with their families."

World Athletics:

"It is what athletes want and we believe this decision will give all athletes, technical officials and volunteers some respite and certainty in these unprecedented and uncertain times."

Athletes body the World Players' Association:

"World Players trusts that the postponement heralds a change in the culture of IOC decision-making from one of hierarchy to one of inclusion.

"Postponement -- clearly the correct decision -- followed strong calls by athletes and the Sport & Rights Alliance as well as historic decisions by key National Olympic Committees and sports bodies in athletics, swimming and gymnastics not to send teams."

World swimming body FINA, whose 2021 aquatics world championships are scheduled for July 16-Aug 1:

"We will now work closely with the host organising committee of the 2021 FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, with the Japan Swimming Federation and with the Japanese public authorities, in order to determine flexibility around the dates of the competition, if necessary and in agreement with the IOC."

Alejandro Blanco, Spanish Olympic Committee president:

"The IOC has given us some good news by announcing that the Olympic Games will be postponed. It will allow all athletes to be able to compete in equal conditions and will safeguard their health, just as we have been demanding since this crisis began."

Alfons Hormann, President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB):

"It confirms to the world population that everything in sports is also being done to bring the global pandemic under control as best as possible and as soon as possible."

Statement from World Rugby:

"Our belief from the outstanding Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, is that the hosts will come out of this adversity stronger and more committed than ever before to deliver an exceptional Games."

International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty:

"We are faced with an unprecedented situation that calls for responsible leadership and making informed decisions. Whilst this is a bitter disappointment for all those who have been preparing and training hard, we all understand that the protection of human life, health and safety, comes first."

International Canoe Federation president Jose Perurena:

"We congratulate the IOC, the Japanese Government and Tokyo 2020 organisers for making this brave but essential decision."

World Triathlon President and IOC member, Marisol Casado:

"We understand that there are lots of questions unanswered at the moment, and we are working in all scenarios to give answers to all of them, and communicate all the different scenarios and solutions to all parties as soon as we can."

British Swimming CEO Jack Buckner:

"Were (our athletes) attempting to train for the biggest sporting event of the quadrennial they would be putting the health of themselves and those around them at risk, which I'm sure everyone would agree would be both dangerous and extremely selfish."

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin to TASS news agency:

"We respect this joint decision by the IOC and the leadership of Japan. In these difficult times, the health of the athletes, organizers, representatives of all countries and IOC members is at the forefront. We will set up our cooperation on the training process with national federations."

America-born Swedish pole vault world record holder Armand "Mondo" Duplantis:

"It's a bummer, it's a bummer that I won't be able to compete in the Olympics this year, but you have to understand the situation, understand that some things are a little bigger than sport, and I guess we'll have it next year."

Italy's Olympic track cycling champion Elia Viviani:

"Postponing the Olympics to 2021 is the best decision for me. Today we are all struggling with a much bigger problem and although August still seems far away, the security for such a big event was very difficult. See you in 2021!"

Canada's Olympic wrestling champion Erica Wiebe:

"Utter relief. Excitement. Uncertainty. We're in unprecedented times. We'll be more ready than ever in 2021 and wearing the maple leaf with more pride than I thought possible."

Britain's world champion heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson:

"Waited eight years for this, what's another one in the grand scheme of things? As an athlete, it's heartbreaking news about the Olympics being postponed until 2021, but it's for all the right reasons and the safety of everyone! Stay indoors!"

Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge:

"All in all a very wise decision to postpone the Olympics until 2021. I look forward to come back to Japan to defend my Olympic title next year and look forward to witness a wonderful event. I wish everybody good health in these challenging times."

Britain's 100m Olympic breaststroke champion Adam Peaty:

"As an athlete, I am obviously extremely disappointed but this is more important and bigger than me or any of the athletes that would have been taking part. This is a matter of life or death and we all need to do the right thing."

Three-time world diving champion Tom Daley:

"Waiting one more year to reach for our dreams is well worth the sacrifice to help keep people safe. Yes, I'll be another year older, and my body will feel that, but I promise to work my tail off to make TeamGB as proud as I can when the time comes!"

Swedish Olympic swimmer Sara Sjostrom

"There was a few athletes who were supposed to quit after the Tokyo Olympics, but I'm sure they will continue another year. I think some of the young athletes, I think it's good for them because they get one more year of hard training, they get one more year to try to get even closer to the best ones."

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