IOC responds to athlete concerns over plans to press ahead with Tokyo 2020

The International Olympic Committee has told athletes “no solution will be ideal” after a number of competitors raised concerns over its plans to press ahead with Tokyo 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Great Britain’s heptathlon world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson was among those to speak out on Tuesday, questioning advice from the IOC asking them to prepare “as best they can” for the Games despite social contact and travel being placed under severe restrictions across the world because of the virus.

Johnson-Thompson pointed out the difficulties she and other athletes were facing and wrote in a social media post: “I feel under pressure to train and keep the same routine which is impossible.”

The IOC said: “This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions.

“The IOC is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes’ health.

“No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes.”

Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi said the IOC was risking the health of athletes, who feel obliged to continue training despite advice to reduce contact.

Hayley Wickenheiser, an IOC member, said the organisation’s conviction that the Games would go ahead was “insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity”.

The former Canada ice hockey star added: “This crisis is bigger even than the Olympics.”

The IOC had said on Tuesday it was fully committed to staging the Games and with four months to go there was no need for any drastic decision to be taken.

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