IOC boss Thomas Bach under fire over Olympics as Covid-19 continues to hit sport

A leading figure at the British Olympic Association has described International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach as arrogant and stubborn over the organisation’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC announced on Sunday evening it was exploring scenarios around the Tokyo Games, including postponement, as a result of the worldwide health crisis and would make a decision within four weeks.

Canada has taken matters into its own hands, with the country’s Olympic and Paralympic committees announcing they will not send athletes to the Games this summer. The Olympics are due to start on July 24.

Callum Skinner, a 2016 Olympic cycling champion and a member of the BOA’s athletes’ commission, was scathing about Bach in a social media post on Monday morning.

“IOC president Thomas Bach’s stubbornness and arrogance has spectacularly failed in this instance and he has weakened the Olympic movement,” Skinner wrote on Twitter.

“This isn’t the first time he has put his own motives above the athletes and the movement.”

Skinner’s post went on to praise those national Olympic committees and international sports federations which have already expressed opposition to the Games going ahead as scheduled.

British sprint star Dina Asher-Smith, who won the 200 metres world title last year, said the IOC’s delay created further uncertainty for competitors.

“So wait… does this mean that athletes face up to another FOUR weeks of finding ways to fit in training – whilst potentially putting ourselves, coaches, support staff and loved ones at risk just to find out they were going to be postponed anyway!!!”

UK Sport, the BOA and the British Paralympic Association will hold a conference call with chief executives and performance directors of the summer Olympic and Paralympic sports on Tuesday to discuss the impact the Covid-19 on the ability of competitors to train.

Canadian officials have said they will not send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics and have “urgently” called for the event to be postponed until 2021.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe told his country’s parliament on Monday that a postponement would be unavoidable if the event cannot be held in a complete way because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says a postponement may be unavoidable
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says a postponement may be unavoidable (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

The Olympics has never been postponed or cancelled during peacetime.

Almost 13,000 people worldwide have been killed by Covid-19, according to the latest WHO figures, with cases in 187 countries, areas or territories.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has told its athletes to prepare for the Games being held “in the northern summer of 2021”.

Australian team chef de mission for Tokyo Ian Chesterman said in a statement: “It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July.

“Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them.

“They have also shouldered the burden of concern for their peers around the world.

“While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control.”

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which had been due to take place on June 7, has been postponed due to the outbreak.

It is the eighth Formula One race so far to be affected by the pandemic.

Former England striker turned broadcaster Gary Lineker tweeted that he is self-isolating after his son George displayed symptoms of the virus.

Lineker Sr wrote: “In self isolation as @GeorgeLineker has symptoms.

“They’re not the regular ones, but complete loss of sense of taste and smell. Odd these have not been pointed out much.

In self isolation as @GeorgeLineker has symptoms. They’re not the regular ones, but complete loss of sense of taste and smell. Odd these have not been pointed out much. Been nearly a week and has spent time at mine. I’ve been vigilant, hand washing/distancing but isolation it is.

— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 23, 2020

“Been nearly a week and has spent time at mine. I’ve been vigilant, hand washing/distancing but isolation it is.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s rugby league competition, the NRL, has suspended its season.

Matches, played behind closed doors, had continued to take place until Sunday.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg told a media conference: “The advice has changed and as it does, so do we.

“We have made the unprecedented decision to suspend the 2020 season. We would not have reached this point had the situation not changed so dramatically.

“Our priority is to give our game the best chance of a long and sustainable future.”

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