TOKYO – Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi mentioned athletes have been being pressured to take well being dangers as opponents began to talk out about holding the Tokyo Video games throughout the coronavirus disaster.
Stefanidi and British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson each voiced considerations after the Worldwide Olympic Committee mentioned it was “totally dedicated” to operating the Video games as scheduled from July 24.
An IOC member referred to as the physique’s stance “insensitive and irresponsible”, saying athletes have been dealing with “anxiousness and heartbreak” as they attempt to prepare throughout the virus emergency.
Stefanidi, one in every of Greece’s most distinguished athletes, was scheduled at hand the ceremonial flame to Japanese officers earlier than the Greek leg of the torch relay was scrapped over COVID-19.
“The IOC desires us to maintain risking our well being, our household’s well being and public well being to coach daily?” she tweeted.
“You’re placing us at risk proper now, at this time, not in four months.”
On Tuesday, minutes earlier than the IOC assertion, the Euro 2020 soccer match was delayed for a 12 months, bowing to the disaster that has paralysed Europe and drastically curtailed worldwide journey.
Olympic qualifying tournaments are among the many swathe of sports activities occasions which were cancelled or postponed, with solely 57 % of athletes reserving their locations up to now.
“It is unbelievable,” mentioned Stefanidi. “What about group sports activities which have to coach collectively? What about swimming? What about gymnastics that they contact the identical objects?
“There’s zero consideration of the danger they’re placing us in proper now.”
Johnson-Thompson, the world heptathlon champion, criticised the IOC for telling athletes to coach “as finest they’ll”, saying it was at odds with stringent authorities well being measures.
“I really feel beneath stress to coach and maintain the identical routine which is inconceivable,” she wrote on Twitter.
“It is troublesome (to) method the season when every part has modified within the lead-up other than the final word deadline,” added the Briton.
– ‘Greater than the Olympics’ –
Doubts are more and more being expressed about holding the Olympics on time, after the outbreak that first exploded in China unfold to Asia after which worldwide, infecting virtually 200,000 folks and killing 7,900.
On Wednesday an Olympic gymnastics qualifier in Tokyo, doubling as a take a look at occasion, grew to become the most recent competitors to be cancelled.
A day earlier, the deputy head of Japan’s Olympic committee mentioned he had examined optimistic for coronavirus.
However the IOC insisted “there isn’t a want for any drastic selections at this stage” including that “any hypothesis at this second can be counter-productive”.
Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian IOC member with 4 ice hockey gold medals, warned “this disaster is greater than even the Olympics”.
“From an athlete perspective, I can solely think about and attempt to empathise with the anxiousness and heartbreak athletes are feeling proper now,” she mentioned in a press release.
“The uncertainty of not realizing the place you are going to prepare tomorrow as services shut and qualification occasions are cancelled all around the world can be horrible if you happen to’ve been coaching your complete life for this.”
Wickenheiser added: “I believe the IOC insisting it will transfer forward, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity.”
Center-distance runner Jess Judd additionally criticised the IOC recommendation on coaching, whereas fellow British monitor athlete Man Learmonth has informed The Guardian that the Olympics needs to be postponed.