Tokyo Olympics 2020: NZ Olympic Committee urge IOC to decide on Games

NZ Olympic Committee (NZOC) president Mike Stanley has called on the international body to decide if it will postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games.

On Monday (NZ time), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that cancellation of the Games "is not on the agenda", but openly acknowledged postponement was possible. 

The IOC has given itself a deadline of four weeks to make a decision. 

That announcement came amid mounting pressure from athletes and national Olympic committees for the Games to be delayed - they are due to run from July 24 to August 9, due to the coronavirus crisis.

"We urge the IOC to finalise their decision as soon as possible, bringing clarity to our sports and athletes," says Stanley.

Stanley has penned an open letter to athletes, insisting the health and wellbeing of the New Zealand team is the NZOC's main priority and the global situation remains uncertain.

"In the circumstances, a review of the options is the only realistic way forward. We note that a cancellation has been ruled out.

"The different scenarios are yet to be confirmed and will be worked through over the coming month.

"For our New Zealand athletes, this news will be incredibly disruptive. We know years of training go into an Olympic Games performance.

"We are aware, however, that our athletes, and those around the world have been increasingly impacted by a lack of access to training facilities, disruption to qualification events and uncertainty around the environment they may face in Tokyo.

International Olympic Committee chief executive Thomas Bach.
International Olympic Committee chief executive Thomas Bach. Photo credit: Reuters

"Athletes need a safe and fair playing field to compete, and right now, the widespread and evolving impact of COVID-19 is not allowing that to happen.

"We have the utmost confidence that members of the New Zealand team will have the resilience, focus and determination to work through any scenario we may face, and be ready for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

"We will now work with our partners at High Performance Sport NZ, National Sporting Organisations and our athletes' commission to listen to feedback, and adjust our planning to ensure our athletes are both supported and ready to perform to their best at the Tokyo Olympic Games." 

While the NZOC has largely remained silent about the Games, current and former athletes have publicly criticised the IOC for its stance to press ahead with plans to stage the event.

In recent days, UK Athletics, its American counterpart and several national Olympic governing bodies have urged the IOC to delay the Games.