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British Olympian attacks IOC chief over Olympics

2020-03-24 06:53
Thomas Bach
Thomas Bach (AFP)

British track cyclist Callum Skinner has labelled International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach "arrogant" and "stubborn" over the organisation's approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC, which has faced strong pressure to postpone the Tokyo Games, scheduled to start on 24 July, announced on Sunday delaying the event was one of its options.

Bach said a decision on when the Olympics would take place would be made "within the next four weeks".

Canada has pulled out of the Games and Japan's prime minister on Monday admitted a delay may be "inevitable".

Skinner, who won gold and silver medals at the 2016 Olympics and is a member of the British Olympic Association's (BOA) athletes' commission, was scathing about Bach in a social media post on Monday.

"IOC president Thomas Bach's stubbornness and arrogance has spectacularly failed in this instance and he has weakened the Olympic movement," Skinner wrote on Twitter.

"This isn't the first time he has put his own motives above the athletes and the movement."

British sprint star Dina Asher-Smith, who won the 200 metres world title last year, said the IOC's delay created further uncertainty for competitors.

"So wait... does this mean that athletes face up to another FOUR weeks of finding ways to fit in training - whilst potentially putting ourselves, coaches, support staff and loved ones at risk just to find out they were going to be postponed anyway!!!"

Meanwhile British Olympic Association chairperson Hugh Robertson warned it was unlikely the country could send a team to Tokyo should the 2020 Games go ahead as scheduled.

"I think it is very simple. If the virus continues as predicted by the (UK) government, I don't think there is any way we can send a team," Robertson, a former British sports minister, told Sky Sports News.

"And I base that on two things. Firstly, I don't see any way that the athletes and Team GB could be ready by then.

"Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.

"Second, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this.

"We are actually in a process where we are talking to all our sports. We will complete that over the next couple of days. At the end of that we have already said to the IOC that we think their four-week pause is absolutely the right thing to do.

"We can't see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted at the moment."

Earlier, a spokesperson for Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, urged the IOC to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

"Athletes are facing significant uncertainty in the current environment… We want the International Olympic Committee to make a definitive decision soon, to bring clarity to all of those involved," the spokesman said.

"The sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, set out yesterday (Sunday) that the IOC should be seriously considering postponing the games."

 

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