Despite mounting global efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president Thomas Bach remain steadfast in their determination to host the Tokyo Olympics.
In a lengthy interview with the New York Times published on Thursday, Bach said: “Cancellation (of the Olympics) is not on the agenda.”
Bach also said it’s “too early” to make any decisions on the fate of the Games and whether they should be postponed.
“What makes this crisis so unique and so difficult to overcome is the uncertainty,” Bach said. “It would not be responsible in any way to set a date or take a decision right now, which would be based on the speculation about the future developments.”
The Olympics is scheduled to run from July 24 to Aug. 9 in Tokyo. The Games typically bring together more than 10,000 athletes from 190 countries, plus hundreds of thousands of tourists and spectators.
The IOC has faced increased criticism over the past week for its unwillingness to acknowledge that the Games could be cancelled, delayed or significantly affected by the spread of the new coronavirus.
Several athletes, including Canadian hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser and Greek Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi, have called the IOC’s response to COVID-19 “irresponsible and insensitive,” adding that athletes are being put “in danger” by the IOC when encouraged to continue preparing for the Games during a global pandemic.
British rower Matthew Pinsent, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, said recent statements made by Bach were “not compatible” with the instinct to stay safe and follow government instructions for slowing the spread of the virus.
“I’m sorry Mr. Bach but this is tone deaf,” Pinsent wrote on Twitter earlier this week.
Pinsent has said the Games should be called off.