By Ali Iveson |
Postponing Tokyo 2020 has been described as “absolutely the right thing to do” by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons.
It was confirmed today by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe that the Games would not go ahead as initially planned because of the coronavirus pandemic and have therefore been postponed until no later than the summer of 2021.
“The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sport event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible”, Parsons said in a statement.
“At a time when many major communities around the world are in lockdown, with workplaces and shops closed and people urged not to leave their own homes, continuing to pursue the dream of the Tokyo 2020 Games happening this year does not make sense; postponement is the only logical option.
“By taking this decision now, everyone involved in the Paralympic Movement, including all Para athletes, can fully focus on their own health and well-being and staying safe during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
There have now been more than 17,000 COVID-19 deaths across the world and strict travel restrictions and lockdown orders are in place in many countries, making it hard for athletes to train.
Dozens of sporting events – including Paralympic qualifiers – have been postponed or cancelled as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Paralympics Australia had already come out as “wholly supportive of a postponement”, while the Canadian, Brazilian, American and German Paralympic Committees had adopted similar stances.
Chelsey Gotell, who chairs the IPC Athletes’ Council, said postponement was “the right decision for the athletes, the Games and the wider Paralympic Movement.
“We all now have greater clarity about when the Games will take place, and this is very welcome news for the global Para athlete community.”
The new plan is for the Paralympic Games to be held in 2021 and before the end of the summer, but retain the name Tokyo 2020.
“When the Paralympic Games do happen in Tokyo next year, they will be a spectacular global celebration of humanity coming together again as one”, Parsons added.
“In the meantime, we will liaise and work closely with our athlete community, National Paralympic Committees and International Federation impacted by this postponement.”
The British Paralympic Association “fully supports the decision” to postpone the Games, said chief executive Mike Sharrock.
“The British Paralympic Association is already implementing contingency plans to ensure ParalympicGB athletes have everything in place to be best prepared for the Games when they are staged in 2021”, Sharrock added.
“We recognise that there are a huge range of factors to be considered when looking to postpone an event at this scale and we acknowledge the scale of the challenge for our friends at the Tokyo Organising Committee, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and IPC in addressing these.”
The Canadian Paralympic Committee, in a joint statement with Canadian Olympic Committee said the decision “has given Tokyo hopefuls worldwide the clarity they need about the immediate future, so we can all concentrate on our collective health and wellbeing and take all necessary steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
It thanked organisers for reaching this decision and expressed that “Tokyo 2020 will be a celebration of all that we now seek to overcome”.
Paralympics Ireland has also stated its support for postponement, with chief executive Miriam Malone saying the organisation was “already rolling out our contingency plans for athletes”.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.