March 19, 2020 / 12:47 PM / 22 days ago

JOC board member says Olympics should be postponed -Nikkei

TOKYO, March 19 (Reuters) - Japan Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi has said the Tokyo Olympics should be postponed because athletes are unable to prepare adequately because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Friday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organisers have repeatedly said that the Tokyo Games, due to start on July 24, will run as scheduled. However, the spread of the coronavirus and successive cancellations of sporting events and qualifiers has raised questions over the plans, including among athletes.

Yamaguchi, who won a judo bronze medal at the Seoul Games in 1988, was quoted by the paper as saying that the IOC’s insistence on holding the Games as scheduled will put athletes at risk.

She said that she plans to raise this at a JOC board meeting scheduled for March 27.

“As far as I can see in news from the United States and Europe, athletes aren’t in a position where they can continue their training as usual,” she was quoted as saying.

Officials at the JOC were not immediately available for comment.

One IOC member has called the group “irresponsible” for insisting on holding the Games as scheduled, while several athletes have said the IOC decision puts athletes’ health at risk.

The Tokyo Olympics are due to run from July 24 to Aug. 9. (Reporting by Elaine Lies Editing by David Goodman)

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