Sebastian Coe: Postponing Olympics saves athletes from mental turmoil

Competitors would have been placed in an impossible position if the event had been left to start on July 24, says the World Athletics president.

Sebastian Coe...“Sport, on this occasion, had to take a backseat.”   -  Getty Images

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said on Sunday that the decision to postpone this year’s Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus has saved athletes from “mental turmoil.”

Former Olympic champion Coe supported the move to push the Games back to 2021 and said competitors would have been placed in an impossible position if the event had been left to start on July 24 as originally scheduled. They would have been tempted to continue training despite large parts of the world being in lockdown due the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now killed more than 31,000 people.

“We didn’t want to have the athletes in a position where they were countering government advice, maybe even breaking the law,” Coe told TalkSport on Sunday.

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“And of course, in the back of their minds was always that concern, it wasn’t just their own training programme, but that they ran the risk of effectively infecting themselves, their families, their kids, grandparents or parents, and we just wanted to take them out of that mental turmoil as quickly as we possibly could.

“We’re no different from everyone else out there but I think we just concluded that sport, on this occasion, had to take a back seat.”

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