Tokyo Olympics: Games likely to be postponed says Irish Federation chief

Olympic Federation of Ireland chief executive Peter Sherrard
Irish Olympic chief Peter Sherrard said athletes are conscious that they have a duty to the rest of society

Olympic Federation of Ireland chief executive Peter Sherrard says the Irish governing body expects the Tokyo Games to be postponed because of coronavirus.

On Sunday, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave itself a deadline of four weeks to make a decision on whether to postpone the Games.

However, Canada and Australian have since pulled out of the Games.

"Our view at the moment is that the games are likely to be postponed," Sherrard told RTE's Morning Ireland.

"We certainly welcome that the IOC has already stated that they are putting athlete safety first and have opened the possibility that the Games can be postponed and they've given themselves a four-week window to do this.

"To a lot of people on the outside, four weeks seems like an inordinately long period of time but there's huge complexity around this.

"There are 33 sports involved, there are about 11,000 athletes from 206 countries. There are media organisations from all over the world who have made serious plans."

Sherrard added that he was convinced that the IOC and the Japanese authorities would keep athlete safety at the forefront of their thinking.

"They're not going to do anything that will jeopardise the health and safety of our athletes."

Sonia O'Sullivan won an Olympic 5,000m silver medal in 2000
Irish athletics great Sonia O'Sullivan said last week that postponing the Games until 2021 would be the "fairest" solution

The Irish Olympic Federation chief acknowledged that athletes all over the world have been forced to scale back their training because of the guidelines around the pandemic.

"Athletes do realise that there is more than just themselves.

"They walk and eat, sleep, drink among us and they can see, and are very, very conscious of the fact that this is completely unprecedented in our living memory and that they do have a duty to the rest of society to make sure they're examples of us all."

Later on Monday, the Olympic Federation of Ireland said it would be seeking views from its member federations following the IOC's statement.

"Through the OFI Athletes Commission, contact will also be made with all athletes on the long list for Tokyo to assess the training restrictions of Irish athletes and their environments, as well as establishing a gauge of the major concerns of Irish athletes right now in this unprecedented situation," said the OFI statement.

"The information will then be used to provide a country by country update that the IOC said it will be asking from all National Olympic Committees."

Northern Ireland athletes can opt to declare for Great Britain & Northern Ireland or the Ireland team at Olympic Games and the majority of Northern Ireland-born athletes who earn qualification represent Team Ireland.