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• Tokyo Olympic Games… from Home?

Article source: Watch Athletics


We keep hearing that the Tokyo Olympic Games will happen in July 2020, but will the world be safe enough with the COVID-19 pandemic just declared?

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Schools, concerts, social events and of course, sporting events, have been postponed and cancelled. One question still remains. What will happen with the Tokyo Olympic Games?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), represented by Yoshiro Mori, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief, says the Olympics will take place on July 24, 2020 as planned. But is he sure? The virus keeps spreading fast and now is a worldwide pandemic. This seems to indicate that organizers must postponed the Games.

The message is one across authorities, as late as March 14 th , Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the Games will go ahead as planned in July, despite COVID-19 concerns resulting in the postponement of sporting events. Although the host country has had more than 1400 cases and 28 deaths from COVID-19, Abe said that they will "overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem.”

The message is one across authorities, as late as March 14 th , Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the Games will go ahead as planned in July, despite COVID-19 concerns resulting in the postponement of sporting events. Although the host country has had more than 1400 cases and 28 deaths from COVID-19, Abe said that they will "overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem.”

Olympic Games without previous Marathons?

Although the high number of COVID-19 cases worldwide in itself is reason enough to consider the cancellation of the Olympic Games, there is another major obstacle at this point. European countries are suspending their biggest spring marathon races where athletes could potentially qualify for Tokyo.

Here is a list that includes some the most important marathons:

  • London Marathon postponed to October 4, 2020.
  • World Half Marathon postponed to October 17, 2020
  • Paris Marathon postponed to October 18, 2020.
  • Barcelona Marathon postponed to October 25, 2020.
  • Rome Marathon has been cancelled all together.
  • Boston Marathon (US) postponed to September 24, 2020.

This is important because the qualification period for Marathon and Race walks ends in May 31. What are athletes supposed to do if they want to qualify? Who will actually participate in the Olympics if the Games are not postponed and athletes are not able to get their qualification marks? Even the World Athletics Indoor Championships, initially scheduled for March 13-15, was suspended until March 2021.

What about track and field?

In the United States, the first important events are set for April such as Stanford Invitational, Payton Jordan Invitational and Mt. Sac Relays but these competitions have already been called off. In Europe, season starts in May but it is very unlikely that any track meet will take place at this point. If this is the case, the Olympic Games will unfairly include mainly athletes that have achieved the standard last year. Without these events, many athletes will miss the opportunity of making the qualification marks or the opportunity to qualify. How will World Athletics, as a governing body, select athletes from its new ranking system if the ranking period lasts 12 to 18 months? If the Olympic Games take place in July, will it really be the best athletes to compete if not everyone had a chance to qualify? In most track and field events, qualification period ends on June 29.

Even with enough athletes, can Japan Guarantee Safety?

As new information unfolds about COVID-19 by the hour, no country at this point is in condition to guarantee safety. Will Japan be able to figure a way to safely receive thousands of athletes and expectators in only four months. We will have to wait and see as Olympic Games authorities are meeting again on Tuesday. The main focus of the meeting is to discuss disruption to qualifying events for the Games. Maybe, they will also have news about the event dates.



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