'No need to decide today',
Australia continues to plan for Tokyo
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[March 19, 2020]
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia will put
extra measures in place because of the coronavirus pandemic but is
continuing preparations to send a delegation to Tokyo for the
Olympics in July, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) officials said
In a sometimes fiery news conference at AOC headquarters, chief
executive Matt Carroll and Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman defended
their decision to follow the advice of the International Olympic
"If everyone is planning for the Games, we must plan for the Games,"
"The key will be delivering the athletes to the Games coronavirus
free. We have to take faith in the process the IOC are going through
with the World Health Organisation.
"Their two guiding principles are to look after the health of
athletes and support the containment of the virus."
Tokyo organizers and the IOC have insisted they are continuing to
plan for the Games to go ahead as scheduled on July 24 despite the
virus, which has infected more than 212,000 people and caused 8,700
deaths in 164 nations.
They are coming under increasing pressure to cancel or postpone the
Games, however, as other major sporting events such as soccer's Euro
2020 and Copa America as well as the French Open tennis are
Carroll said with 16 weeks until the athletes were due to depart for
Tokyo, and 18 until the opening ceremony, there was no need to rush
into a decision.
"We have four months. Think back to where this virus was a month
ago, things have changed," Carroll said.
"Nobody is quite sure how things will pan out over four to six
months. They don't need to make a decision today, they're taking a
measured approach. They're getting the best possible advice they can
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Ian Chesterman, Australia's chef de mission for the 2020 Tokyo
Olympic Games, listens to a question during a media conference in
Sydney, Australia, August 24, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
"If things change, then the IOC's decisions will change."
Chesterman's predecessor and Olympic rowing champion Nick Green, who
led Australia's delegation at the 2012 London Olympics, earlier told
Fairfax media that he now thought it would be "very difficult" to
hold the Tokyo Games.
Green said the widespread bans on mass gatherings by governments
over the past two weeks had changed his mind over the likelihood of
the Games proceeding.
"A couple of weeks ago, I was as confident as everyone else, saying
the Olympics would go ahead, no problem," Green said.
"I'm pretty robust about it but I donít have the same robustness in
my thinking now. I actually canít see how the Games can go ahead, to
Chesterman said the AOC were looking at setting up coronavirus-free
pre-Games camps for their Olympians both in Australia and Japan, as
well as using charter flights to transport the athletes.
"We will work with sports to curate bespoke solutions to deliver our
athletes to the Games fit and healthy and ready to go," he said.
"I have been traveling round the country talking to athletes and I
have no doubt that the athletes want to go to the Games. It would be
fantastic thing if the Games could come off in a coronavirus-free
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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