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Games move best for athletes: Coe

Tokyo Olympics now look set to be held in July 2021

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MENTAL ANGUISH: Sebastian Coe, head of World Athletics, believes postponing the Olympics was the best course of action for the athletes. Photo: REUTERS

MENTAL ANGUISH: Sebastian Coe, head of World Athletics, believes postponing the Olympics was the best course of action for the athletes. Photo: REUTERS

MENTAL ANGUISH: Sebastian Coe, head of World Athletics, believes postponing the Olympics was the best course of action for the athletes. Photo: REUTERS

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says the decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics has saved athletes from mental turmoil.

The Games have been postponed until next year in a decision supported by Coe.

"We didn't want to have the athletes in a position where they were countering government advice, maybe even breaking the law," he said.

"And of course in the back of their minds was always that concern, it wasn't just their own training programme, but that they ran the risk of infecting themselves, their families, their kids, grandparents or parents. We just wanted to take them out of that mental turmoil as quickly as we possibly could.

"We're no different from everyone else out there but I think we just concluded that sport, on this occasion, had to take a back seat."

Talks

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese organisers are in final stages of talks to set the opening date for the Tokyo Games in July next year.

The Tokyo event, postponed last week due to the coronavirus pandemic, will most likely have its opening ceremony in 2021 on July 23 and closing ceremony on August 8, each a day earlier on the calendar than the original 2020 plan, said public broadcaster NHK yesterday, citing unnamed sources.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a delay of about one year on Tuesday after a call with IOC President Thomas Bach.

It is the first postponement in the 124-year history of the modern Olympics, although several - including the 1940 Tokyo Games - were cancelled due to war.

The delay is a huge blow to Japan, which has invested $12billion in the run-up, although financial markets initially cheered by the decision, as some investors had anticipated cancellation.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Sunday the government, now compiling economic-stimulus measures that Abe said will be the biggest ever, will take into account that the Olympic delay will push back several trillions of yen (tens of billions of dollars) of demand to next year.

"If demand is being pushed back until next year, that means the same amount of demand will evaporate this year. We'll take this into account" in compiling the stimulus package, Nishimura told a television programme.

UK Athletics, meanwhile, has called on West Ham to waive their tenancy rights for the London Stadium if there is the chance to stage the Anniversary Games this summer.

The event is scheduled for July 4 and 5, when any extended Premier League season could still be ongoing - giving West Ham first refusal under the terms of their tenancy.

New UKA chief executive Joanna Coates said: "In these unprecedented times, why is it football that always comes out - with all the money that slushes around in football - as the one that doesn't suffer? It just doesn't seem right to me.

"We've got athletes that have trained for an Olympic Games that they can't now go on to and we're trying our best to make sure that they still have some form of competition.

"If it's not safe for them then that's fine. But it doesn't seem wholly fair that football can have carte blanche - because of the money involved and broadcast deals - and push every sport out."


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