IOC's doggedness to go ahead with Games uncalled for
Should the world go ahead with this year's Olympics despite the pandemic COVID-19 that has enveloped the world so fast?
Should the world go ahead with this year's Olympics despite the pandemic COVID-19 that has enveloped the world so fast? The question assumes significance in the wake of the speed with which the virus has spread across and its havoc.
Voices of opposition to the games are growing steadily and are seeking to halt the games this year. The IOC has remained committed to staging the Tokyo Games as planned from 24 July to 9 August, saying on March 17 after a meeting with international sports federations that measures against the virus were delivering results.
It is not clear what 'results' was the IOC referring to. The coronavirus has killed more than 8,000 people and infected more than 2,00,000, with its Centre now in Europe. IOC Athletes' Commission member Hayley Wickenheiser claimed the IOC's insistence the Olympics will go ahead as planned was "irresponsible" on Twitter.
In a series of posts, Wickenheiser – who won four Olympic gold medals as part of the Canadian ice hockey team – called not entertaining the idea of a postponement or cancellation "insensitive and irresponsible".
Wickenheiser said, "This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics" and that it was "terrible" some athletes did not know where they could train but were still expected to prepare for the Games." That is precisely the point.
When you do not know where to safely train and always under stress with the concerns emerging out of the virus, will it be fair to continue with the games? The virus has not spared even the developed world and every travel and every gathering is getting banned in the world.
Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece echoed Wickenheiser's comments, accusing the IOC of leaving athletes "at risk". Stefanidi added she "would like to see that there is a concern for the risk to our health" and is worried that it may be dangerous for athletes to train at present. The world has changed now.
This is no more a conducive world for such events. These are the times for reducing the interactions of human beings within. And yet we have this statement: An IOC statement released on March 17 said: "The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games, there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.
The IOC encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as best they can." The IOC wants everyone to appreciate that there still are four months to go for the Olympics to begin.
Indeed, there is a buffer of four months with the IOC and Japan. But these are also the months when thousands of athletes have to compete to earn their Olympic spot and those who have booked their Tokyo ticket have to practice for the greatest event of their sporting career.
Italy, Spain and France are under virtual lockdown and soon other countries too will follow the pattern. It would be foolish to have the games with limited or reduced numbers. Mankind is not born for Olympics. It is vice versa.