- Title: Athletes aren't superheroes, postpone the Games now - Global Athlete
- Date: 22nd March 2020
- Summary: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 22, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLOBAL ATHLETE, CALLUM SKINNER, SAYING: "To be clear I think the Games should be postponed. I think it's the best option, or it's the least worst option available to us now. I think if we're trying to create anything like a normal Olympic Games without potential boycotts, without the media coverage being unanimously about Covid-19, a boycott... sorry a postponement has to be the only decision. I think the IOC are presented with an amazing opportunity to try and bring the world together when we see the other side of this pandemic. We've seen them do it before when they put out North and South Korea under one united Korean flag and that's the power of sport and that's the power of the Olympic Games. So, they've got an amazing opportunity here to postpone the Games and then bring the world together after we see the back of this virus." (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLOBAL ATHLETE, CALLUM SKINNER, SAYING: "As far as I'm aware, none of the athletes have contracted the virus that I've spoken to, but the whole point of athlete health is really important. I think it's quite often misunderstood that athletes, especially Olympic athletes, are some kind of superheroes that are immune to everything. We're not and we can suffer from illnesses and injuries just as much as anyone else. And to put that into perspective around about 700 of the 10,000 athletes which attended the London 2012 Games were diagnosed as asthmatic and here in the UK that would put you at a very high-risk category. If you were to catch Covid-19. There's also the other issue that the most commonly reported illnesses at Olympic Games tend to be respiratory issues which is a double-edged sword. So you could have some athletes missing out on the Games due to a false positive because they have a cough and have to self-isolate and then there's also the potential of having all of these athletes from all over the world coming together in one place; it's basically just a bit of a recipe for the virus spreading even further if someone manages to get into the village who maybe a carrier." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLOBAL ATHLETE, CALLUM SKINNER, SAYING: "It's incredibly tough but I think it's one of these instances where the health of the nation, the health of society comes before sport and I don't think any athlete is willing to put their health on the line for the Olympic Games. For most of them anyway, the health comes before anything else. But we're seeing a growing movement of organisations and bodies calling for a postponement from USA Swimming, (U.S.) Track and Field, Dutch Cycling, Brazil, Norway, Slovenia and I think that list is just going to grow and grow, which kind of brings us on to the point that postponing - having a 'normal Games' as the IOC would like to call it isn't actually in their full control. If everyone remembers the 2016 Olympic Games, we had a lot of concerns about the Zika virus, which now obviously pales in comparison to what we're seeing now. A lot of athletes boycotted specifically in golf - you had the likes of Rory McIlroy not attending. So even if the IOC do push on there is a chance that we could see large scale boycotts which would damage the Olympic movement for a long time." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLOBAL ATHLETE, CALLUM SKINNER, SAYING: "Well, history points towards the fact that the Olympics doesn't always start no matter what. We've obviously had breaks due to wartime and things like that in the past and there's a lot of world leaders who are actually starting to classify the fight against Covid-19 as a war. So, to postpone the Olympic Games due to a pandemic doesn't actually seem that unprecedented and it seems crazy to say that now because I wouldn't have said that a few months ago. But as to the motivations as to why they (the IOC) are continuing I think I'm not quite sure and they'd have to answer for themselves. It could be relating to money, it could be that they're trying to protect the Olympic movement in the way that they see fit but ultimately, we need to remember that they're potentially putting a lot of athletes and support staff and fans at risk by pursuing with the Games at this time."
- Embargoed: 5th April 2020 19:49
- Keywords: Coronavirus Covid-19 IOC Tokyo 2020 Olympics
- Location: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / FILE
- City: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / FILE
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Olympics,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001C64W75Z
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The International Olympic Committee needs to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics now according to the competitor-led movement Global Athlete.
The organisation, fronted by former British cyclist Callum Skinner, believes the Games should be rescheduled until the Covid-19 pandemic is under control.
Skinner, who won Olympic gold in Rio 2016, warned boycotts could follow if the IOC decides to go ahead with the Games in July, putting the health of athletes at risk.
In an interview with Reuters on Sunday, Skinner said that athletes aren't superheroes and they are just as likely to contract the virus as anyone else could be.
Later on Sunday (March 22), the International Olympic Committee said it is to step-up its "scenario planning" for the Tokyo 2020 Games -- including a possible postponement.
The IOC will hold detailed discussions that will include an option of putting back the July 24 start date due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but said a complete cancellation of the Games would not solve any problems or help anybody.
The Olympics has never been postponed or cancelled during peacetime.
Under mounting pressure from athletes, federations and national Olympic committees to postpone the Games, the IOC did a partial U-turn on Sunday after long insisting, with Tokyo organisers, that the Games would go ahead as planned.
More than 13,000 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak and its epicentre is now in Europe.
Opposition to holding the Games in July has risen sharply in the past 48 hours, with several major stakeholders such as U.S. Track and Field and UK Athletics along with several national Olympic committees, calling for a delay because of the pandemic.
They have raised several issues in the past week with the IOC, including athletes' inability to prepare due to restrictions caused by the virus and their overall safety.
(Production: Tim Hart)
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