Global Athlete has added its voice to those calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed this summer due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The IOC sparked controversy earlier this week by insisting it remains “fully committed” to the planned start date of July 24 despite the pandemic having brought sporting events around the globe to a standstill in the past couple of weeks.
Athletes from several sports have criticised the IOC’s advice that they continue to prepare for the Games “as best they can” given the huge disruption already caused.
Now Global Athlete, an athlete-led movement, has joined the likes of US Track and Field and the Spanish Football Federation in saying the Games should be delayed.
A statement said: “Athletes want to be part of a solution to ensure the Games are a success but under the current global restrictions that are limiting public gatherings as well as closing training facilities and borders, athletes do not have the ability to appropriately prepare for these Games and their health and safety must come first.
“Sport has a duty of care to protect their athletes. Public health must be a priority over sporting event.
“By asking (athletes) to carry on as normal and continue to train for these Games clearly puts their physical and mental health at risk.”
The statement further called on broadcasters and sponsors to show “flexibility and understanding” in allowing the Games to be staged safely.
On Saturday, US Track and Field sent an email calling for the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to make representations about delaying the Games as the “right and responsible thing to do” in the circumstances.
USA Swimming, meanwhile, had already asked the USOPC to push for a one-year postponement as the impact of the lockdown began to hit home.
The Spanish Football Federation also called for this summer’s Olympics to be postponed.
Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, steered clear of the debate but said: “I’m delighted that’s not my decision.
“It’s an incredibly hard call in terms of the scale of those two events (Olympics and Paralpympics) against the reality of the situation we find ourselves in.”
Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth (centre) has praised how governing bodies have handled the coronavirus outbreak (Steven Paston/PA)
But Hollingsworth did praise the way that UK governing bodies had responded.
“I speak to the leaders of the governing bodies, every single one of them is making the absolutely correct difficult decision,” said Hollingsworth.
“In the normal course of life these events would be a high point in the calendar, in reality against the situation we have all got to take a completely different view.
“We are all missing it but let’s be real, it’s not the priority, it will come back and we’ll love it all the more.”
Former Leeds chairman Massimo Cellino has called for the Serie A season to be cancelled due to “the plague” of coronavirus.
Former Leeds chairman Massimo Cellino wants the Serie A season to be cancelled (Mike Egerton/PA)
Italy is in lockdown, with more than 4,800 people having died there so far during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cellino, who owns Italian club Bresica, told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper: “Everything has to be moved to the next season. It is time for realism, gentlemen. This is the plague.
“You can no longer play this year. Think about the next one.”
Liverpool stewards are volunteering to help with crowd control and assisting the elderly with their shopping at supermarkets, the club’s chief executive Peter Moore has said.
“Message to supermarket managers here on Merseyside. Our stadium stewards here at LFC are offering their time and expertise in volunteering to help with crowd control, queue management, parking control, assisting the elderly and infirm taking their groceries to their cars, etc,” Moore wrote on Twitter.
“They are truly the best in the business and would be delighted to help in whatever way you would deem appropriate (and safe) on your premises. Please DM me so that I can put you in contact. #YNWA.”
Former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has tested positive for coronavirus, his Chinese club Shandong Luneng have announced.
“Dear friends, I have been tested for coronavirus and my test result is positive,” Fellaini wrote on Twitter.
“Thanks to the fans, medical staff and the club for their care and attention. I will follow the treatment and hope to return to the game as soon as possible. Please everyone stay safe.”
In Australia, the National Rugby League has vowed to continue with their season until the Australian government advises them not to.
The NRL began its season behind closed doors last week and ARL chairman Peter V’landys stated the intention is to proceed with the competition until they are encouraged to shut down matches.
The prestigious Dubai World Cup meeting, scheduled to take place at Meydan on Saturday, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Though many of the participants took part in routine exercise on the Meydan track as normal on Sunday morning, it was announced in the early afternoon the card had been postponed.
A statement issued by the government of Dubai’s media office read: “To safeguard the health of all participants, the higher organising committee of the Dubai World Cup 2020 has decided to postpone the 25th edition of the global tournament to next year.”