Coronavirus: British Olympic Association says it will not endanger athletes

Katarina Johnson-Thompson
British heptathlon world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson is among the athletes to have criticised the IOC's approach

The British Olympic Association says it will not "endanger the health" of athletes in their preparation for this summer's Tokyo 2020 Games.

The International Olympic Committee has said the Games could still begin on 24 July despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Athletes have criticised the stance, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson saying training had become "impossible".

The BOA said it is "clearly only wise for athletes to prepare for the Games where it is safe to do so".

"We can be categorically clear that we will not endanger the health and wellbeing of the athletes or wider delegation at any point," it said.

"As of the date of this statement, the IOC and the local Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (TOCOG) have confirmed there is no change to the status of the Games happening between 24 July - 9 August 2020.

"The BOA will support the ongoing decision-making process and input wherever necessary."

World heptathlon champion Johnson-Thompson, 27, is returning to the UK from her training base in France as a result of the country being in lockdown.

She said she feels "under pressure to train and keep the same routine, which is impossible".

Greek Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi said the IOC was "risking our health" by suggesting athletes train every day.

UK Sport has said athletes may continue training and training centres may stay open "if they can provide a safe environment".

Moving Games would have 'spectacular difficulties'

Some have suggested the Games could be postponed to 2021 while others, including British race walker Tom Bosworth, have said the Games should move to autumn.

International Olympic Committee member Sir Craig Reedie says "theoretically" the Games could be moved but any such decision would have "spectacular difficulties".

He said he expects the IOC to take the "best option they can" to try to make sure the Games take place as planned, and doing so would be a "huge gesture of hope and expectation".

"With all the sport that's being cancelled and the huge holes there are in everybody's diary it really would be a gesture of hope and expectation if the biggest sport event in the world could actually go ahead properly organised, in safe conditions - safe for athletes, safe for officials, safe for spectators," Reedie said.

"That's a big ask but my understanding is every effort is being made in Tokyo and in Lausanne to deliver just that."

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