Thursday 28 May, 2020

Jamaica Olympic Association supports Tokyo 2020 switch to 2021

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda.

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) has welcomed the move by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The IOC confirmed the move on Tuesday following discussions between its president Thomas Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Games' organisers.

It means that for the first time since the Second World War, the Olympics will not go ahead on schedule.

President of the JOA Christopher Samuda in a release stated that "the announcement this morning (Tuesday) of the postponement of the Olympic Games by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ends the speculation and uncertainty.

"The JOA supports the decision in the interest of the safety, health and well-being of athletes, coaches and officials who, by dint of their sacrificial and unstinting commitment, continue to make the Olympic Games the universal institution it is and an extraordinary human experience."

The IOC said the Tokyo Games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but not later than the summer of 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games, and the international community”.

Samuda said that with the decision having now been made the JOA now "calls on all stakeholders, locally and globally, to unify efforts in demonstrating our collective resolve to make the Tokyo Olympic Games a landmark success and a fine example of the triumph of the human spirit and will over adversity.

"My Directors and I continue to have absolute faith in the character of our athletes to re-dedicate themselves to the goal of victory and, in their quest thereof, we stand resolutely with them. Looking to the future.

"Let the Games begin must now be the earnest hope of all and the inspired watchwords of athletes, coaches, managers and, lest we forget, the fans who continue to keep the dream alive."

As a gesture of solidarity, the Olympic flame will stay in Japan and the Games will retain the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

On Sunday, the IOC appeared to attempt to give itself breathing space when announcing it would make a decision in the next four weeks.

However, a growing number of athletes, national governing bodies and sport organisations called for the Games to be put back.

Some athletes expressed great concern that they were effectively being told to carry on with preparations for the Olympics at a time when health concerns have never been greater, and with lockdowns in place in many countries.

World Athletics indicated at the weekend its hope that new dates could be found, and USA Swimming demanded a postponement, saying "pressing ahead this summer... is not the answer".

The decision to postpone appeared inevitable when veteran IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today on Monday that "the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know".

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee consulted hundreds of athletes and said its conclusion was that, regardless of progress in efforts to contain and quash coronavirus, "the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner".

More than 400,000 people worldwide have been infected by the coronavirus and over 18,000 have died, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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