No postponement of Tokyo Games beyond 2021, says Olympics chief

In this March 30, 2020, file photo, a man jogs past the Olympic rings in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
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Updated 21 May 2020

No postponement of Tokyo Games beyond 2021, says Olympics chief

TOKYO: Olympics chief Thomas Bach agreed that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the delayed Tokyo Games on Thursday, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.

Bach said he backed Japan’s stance that the Games will have to be canceled if the coronavirus pandemic is not  under control by next year.

In March, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to July 23, 2021 over the coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands around the world and halted international sport and travel.

“Quite frankly, I have some understanding for (Japan’s position) because you cannot forever employ 3,000, or 5,000, people in an organizing committee,” Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, told the BBC.

“You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide for all the major federations.

“You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty, you cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games.”

The IOC leader said it was a “mammoth task” to reorganize the Olympics, which have never been canceled outside of the world wars.

However, Japanese officials have been clear that they have no intention of postponing the Games again beyond next year.

Bach warned that “nobody knows” how the situation will play out, but said the IOC will act on advice from the World Health Organization.

“We have established one principle, and this is to organize these Games in a safe environment for all the participants,” he said.

“Nobody knows what the world will look like in one year and two months from today, so we have to rely on (the experts).”

Bach wouldn’t say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them without fans.

“This is not what we want,” he said. “Because the Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the Games so unique that they’re in an Olympic stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together.

“But when it then would come to the decision... I would ask you to give me some more time for consultation with the athletes, with the World Health Organization, with the Japanese partners.”

The IOC has already set aside $800 million to help organizers and sports federations meet the extra costs of a postponed Olympics.

According to the latest budget, the Games were due to cost $12.6 billion, shared between the organizing committee, the government of Japan and Tokyo city.

But Bach said there should be “no taboo” in cutting costs for next year’s Games.

“They will definitely be different, and they have to be different,” he said. “If we all have learned something during this crisis, (it is) to look to the essentials and not so much on the nice-to-have things.

“So this concentration on the essentials should be reflected in the organisation of these Games ... there should be no taboo.”


Jordan joins sports world’s call for change after Floyd death

Updated 01 June 2020

Jordan joins sports world’s call for change after Floyd death

  • I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. We have had enough: Michael Jordan

LOS ANGELES: NBA legend Michael Jordan decried “ingrained racism” in the US as the sports world’s reaction to the death of unarmed black man George Floyd leapt leagues and continents.

“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan said Sunday, as protests over Floyd’s death on May 25 spawned violence and looting across the US. “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country.

“We have had enough,” added Jordan, who was famously reluctant to comment on social issues during his playing career.

Floyd died after a white policeman in Minneapolis held his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for several minutes.

“We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability,” Jordan said.

Jordan joined a chorus of voices from the NBA, NFL and other US sports demanding change for black Americans, but the demands went far beyond America.

World champion driver Lewis Hamilton lashed out at “white-dominated” Formula One for failing to speak out against racism.

Hamilton warned “I know who you are and I see you” as the Briton accused his fellow drivers of “staying silent in the midst of injustice” following Floyd’s death.

French footballer Marcus Thuram and England international Jadon Sancho both mounted individual protests calling for justice for Floyd after scoring in Germany’s Bundesliga on Sunday.

Thuram took a knee after his goal for Borussia Moenchengladbach in a match against Union Berlin, while Sancho marked one of his three goals for Borussia Dortmund against Paderborn by lifting his jersey to reveal a T-shirt bearing the words “Justice for George Floyd.” 

Thuram’s gesture echoed the protest against US racism spearheaded by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the national anthem at games in 2016 sparked outrage.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent an internal memo to the league’s employees saying it shares “the outrage” at the death of Floyd — which comes in the wake of the police killing in Kentucky of emergency health worker Breonna Taylor in her home, and the fatal shooting of unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.

“We are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed,” Silver said in the memo published by Yahoo.

“Racism, police brutality and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored.”

With US pro sports on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, American athletes had no chance to demonstrate on the field of play.

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours to lead a peaceful protest march in Atlanta, Georgia.

“First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community,” the Georgia native said.

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, himself the son of a policeman, said that as violence escalated it was imperative to keep Floyd’s death at the forefront.

“The response we are seeing across the nation, to the murder of George Floyd, is decades in the making,” Rivers said in a statement. “Too often, people rush to judge the response, instead of the actions that prompted it.

“We have allowed too many tragedies to pass in vain. This isn’t an African-American issue. This is a human issue,” Rivers said.

US tennis great Serena Williams posted an Instagram video featuring a young African-American girl overcome by emotion as she addressed a public meeting, finally able to force out the words: “We are black people, and we shouldn’t have to feel like this.”

Teenage tennis phenomenon Coco Gauff had a simple question on her Instagram post: “Am I next?”

And two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father Haitian, reminded her social media followers: “Just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at all.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the violent protests “reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel”.

With Kaepernick still unable to find a job in the NFL, not everyone was convinced by Goodell or by San Francisco 49ers chief executive Jed York, who pledged $1 million to combat systemic racial discrimination.

Former 49er Eric Reid, who knelt alongside Kaepernick, tweeted: “Nobody wants your money Jed. We want justice.”