New Zealand Olympic Committee calls for postponement of Tokyo Games

New Zealand Olympic Committee and the athletes of the country joined the growing chorus seeking postponement of the Tokyo Games.

The Olympic rings in the Olympic Park in Stratford in London. (File image)   -  GETTY IMAGES

New Zealand Olympic Committee and the athletes of the country on Tuesday joined the growing chorus seeking postponement of the Tokyo Games in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created an upheaval worldwide.

Canada and Australia have already made it clear that they will not be sending their teams for the Olympics due to the worsening pandemic, which has so far killed 16,000 people and infected close to 4,00,000 globally.

The USA track and field, swimming and gymnastics bodies have also called for a postponement.

The New Zealand Athletes’ Commission had conducted a survey to gather feedback from the country’s athletes, and New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith welcomed their decision supporting postponement of Tokyo Olympics.

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“Our focus is first and foremost the athletes. It has been important to us to give them the opportunity to talk to us. We value their resilience and flexibility and we know working through the changes won’t be easy,” Smith said in a statement.

“We support their position and will now share their views with the IOC as we advocate internationally on behalf of New Zealand athletes and sport. We reiterate the need for a swift decision.”

New Zealand Athlete Commission member Sarah Cowley-Ross said, “New Zealand athletes have long prepared for a July 2020 Olympic Games however the Olympic Movement is founded on humanity and that, right now, must come first.

“As the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, and on behalf of New Zealand’s Olympic athletes, we are asking the IOC to immediately confirm a postponement, using the following four weeks to clarify details.”

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The sentiment was echoed by Paralympics New Zealand which surveyed Para athletes and received overwhelming support.

“Paralympians and Para athletes believed a postponement of the Paralympic Games is the preferred option. This would create a fair, safe and level playing field for all nations especially given the severely hampered training environments,” Paralympics New Zealand CE Fiona Allan said.

“Our Para athletes and our wider organisation echo the support for a postponement. Para athletes told us that an early decision is critical to best ensure the wellbeing of all athletes throughout New Zealand. It is imperative that this decision is made quickly to provide certainty.”

The IOC said on Sunday it will wait for four more weeks before taking a final call on the fate of the July 24-August 9 Games, even as senior IOC member Dick Pound made it clear that given the situation a postponement is now inevitable.

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