Adding more pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and host nation Japan, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has announced that it has asked it's athletes to prepare for the Olympics in 2021.
The demands for a cancellation or a years' postponement come due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 14,600 lives.
A statement released by the AOC on Monday read, "The AOC says Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOC’s announcement of a potential postponement of this year’s Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe. The AOC believes our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their National Federations."
AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll says athletes have needed certainty - they wanted to do the right thing for themselves, their families and the world community. “We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programs. With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation. The IOC had adopted the key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport. This decision reflects those principles. We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty.”
The announcement comes minutes after the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) decided to not send its athletes to this year's Tokyo Olympics.
On Sunday, IOC stated that cancellation is 'not on the agenda' but will be assessing all options in the next four weeks. In the statement released, COC acknowledged the IOC letter "We also applaud the IOC for acknowledging that safeguarding the health and wellness of nations and containing the virus must be our paramount concern. We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport."