‘Worst thing is to be in limbo’ – Steve Parry wants deadline for Tokyo decision

Olympic organisers need to set a deadline to say whether the Tokyo Games will go ahead this summer, according to a former Team GB star.

Tokyo 2020 has already been delayed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic and there are fresh fears surrounding the new dates, with Japan, like many countries around the world, dealing with a resurgence in Covid-19 cases.

The situation makes it hugely difficult for athletes to prepare for the Games, and Steve Parry, a bronze medallist for Britain in the 200 metres butterfly in 2004, says there is a desperate need for clarity.

“They need a deadline – the International Olympic Committee need to say ‘we will make a call by this date’ because the worst thing is to be in limbo,” Parry, the founder of Sporting House, told the PA news agency.

“I thought the Games were going to go on in 2020, but infection rates are leading to an extended period of uncertainty globally.

“When you have people in Japan saying they are not comfortable with the Games going ahead, that puts real pressure on the organisers and the IOC.”

Other Olympians such as rowing gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent have suggested pushing Tokyo back to 2024, with future hosts Paris and Los Angeles going back to 2028 and 2032 respectively.

Parry does not feel that would be the best approach.

Sir Matthew Pinsent has suggested pushing each Olympic Games back by four years
Sir Matthew Pinsent has suggested pushing each Olympic Games back by four years

“Athletes understand what cycle they’re in,” he said.

“I think they would just have to strike it off, say ‘we’re done’. And that is hugely disappointing for those people that were going to host them.”

Cancellation of the Games would also have a big impact on the national psyche in Parry’s opinion.

“For a country of 60-70million we have dominated, we were second on the medal table last time,” he said.

“It’s a huge source of national pride. It’s easy to dismiss that and say ‘this is elite sport, it doesn’t really matter’ but the fact of the matter is we achieve greater participation when we see national heroes performing like Rebecca Adlington, Chris Hoy, Mo Farah and so on.”

Tokyo 2020 organising committee spokesman Masa Takaya said last week there had never been a discussion about a further delay to this summer’s Games or a cancellation.