Michael McKillop: Irish Paralympics star says Tokyo Games must be delayed to 2021

Michael McKillop put out a tweet at the weekend which said #Toyko2021
McKillop says elite athletes are unable to train at the moment before of the current restrictions

Ireland's four-time Paralympic gold medallist Michael McKillop says the Olympic Games and the Paralympics in Tokyo must be postponed to next year.

The Belfast man believes sport is not a priority when the world is dealing with a crisis as grave as coronavirus.

He also says the Games should not go ahead because elite athletes cannot train given the current restrictions.

"I put out a tweet at the weekend with the hashtag Tokyo 2021," McKillop told Radio Ulster's Sportsound Extra Time.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expected to decide the fate of the Games in four weeks' time, with the Olympics scheduled to start in the Japanese capital on 24 July. The Paralympics is due to begin on 25 August.

"We should be dealing with health first - sport comes after," added the 30-year-old Northern Irishman.

"It doesn't sit right that the Games should go ahead. I think it's unfair that people are given the possibility of qualifying but not the opportunity of preparing properly."

Michael McKillop shows off his Rio gold medal
Michael McKillop won his first Paralympic gold in Beijing in 2008

'Decision must be made soon'

The T37 800m and 1500m world record holder called on the organisers of the Games to make a decision soon.

On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee gave itself a four-week deadline to make a decision on whether to postpone the Olympics but Canadian and Australian Olympic officials said on Monday that their athletes were being withdrawn.

The British Olympic Association later said its team would also pull out of the Games if coronavirus continued to spread as expected.

"I think people want to know if it is going ahead. The sooner that decision is made, the better," added McKillop.

"I found out last week that all Paralympic sporting meets are off until the end of May. The team announcement for the Paralympic Games is at the end of June.

"If all Paralympic meets are off until the end of May, how do people qualify? When are people able to perform at a high level to be ready to compete at a Paralympics?

"I want Tokyo to go ahead at some stage, but it is not right this year - with all that is going on, sport should just be an afterthought."

You can hear more from Michael McKillop on Sportsound Extra Time on Radio Ulster at 18:00 GMT on Monday and on BBC Sounds thereafter.

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