Australia tells athletes to prepare for a postponed Olympics
Says Olympians should prioritize health, focus on competing in 2021
On Sunday, Australian team chef de mission for Tokyo 2020 Ian Chesterman told his country's athletes to start preparing for a Northern summer Olympics in 2021 saying, "It's clear that the Games can't be held in July."
The move appeared to shadow the stance of the Canadian Olympic Committee that also said on Sunday that it too would not be sending its athletes if the Games were staged this year because of the risks associated with the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier in the day, the IOC announced that it would decide within the next four weeks whether or not to postpone or possibly even scale down the Games. Its president, Thomas Bach, explained the decision in a letter to athletes, while also acknowledging the extended timeline might not be popular.
However any move to scale down the Games appears unlikely following comments made by Japans' Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before a parliamentary session on Monday. Abe said a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics would be unavoidable if the Games cannot be held in a complete way because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"If it is difficult to hold [the Games] in a complete way, a decision of postponement would be unavoidable," Abe said.
Shortly after Bach's statement, Australia issued its own statement advising its athletes to prepare for an Olympics in 2021.
The Australian committee's executive board agreed unanimously that "an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad."
BREAKING: The Australian Olympic Committee is telling Aussie Olympians to "prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021"<br><br>"our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families" <a href="https://t.co/qIGpLvTQFL">pic.twitter.com/qIGpLvTQFL</a>—@JoshButler
The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to start July 24 with the Paralympics slated to follow on Aug. 25.
With files from the Canadian Press, Associated Press