Sir Matthew Pinsent: Staging Tokyo Olympics this summer would be ludicrous

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent says the prospect of staging the delayed Tokyo Olympics this summer is “ludicrous” as opposition to the Games continues to grow in the host country.

The Tokyo area is currently under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus crisis and a poll by the Kyodo news agency over the weekend found 80 per cent of respondents believed the Games should either be scrapped or delayed again.

Former rower Pinsent, who won four consecutive coxless pair titles from 1992 to 2004, insisted: “Once again the IOC need courageous leadership.

“The idea of Olympic athletes/officials/delegations getting vaccine priority is antiethical. The risks of 000’s of people flying round the world to gather unvaccinated is ludicrous.”

Long-standing IOC committee member Dick Pound sparked controversy last week when he proposed that Olympic athletes be prioritised for vaccinations in order for the Games to go ahead as planned.

Both the IOC and individual Olympic Associations including the BOA distanced themselves from Pound’s comments, maintaining that vulnerable people and key workers must remain at the front of the queue.

But officials have insisted the Games will start in July, with vaccinations not being compulsory, but the possibility of a mandatory two-week quarantine period for any foreign visitor to the city.

British officials are still preparing for the Games to go ahead and privately are adamant that the IOC and the Japanese organising committee will stage the event despite the surge in coronavirus cases.

However, Pinsent believes the moment has passed, and the Tokyo Games should be pushed back two years in the calendar, moving the subsequent Games in Paris and Los Angeles back as a consequence.

Pinsent added: “My own view is that the Summer Olympic queue should be asked to shift.

“Tokyo given the option of delaying until 2024, Paris move to 28 and LA 32. The athletes lose an Olympics but that’s looking likelier by the day.”