March 21, 2020 / 2:46 PM / 9 days ago

Brazil calls for Tokyo Games to be pushed back to 2021

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) called for this year’s Tokyo Olympics to be suspended because of the coronavirus on Saturday and proposed they be held on the same dates in 2021.

FILE PHOTO: The Olympic rings are pictured in front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Athletes are worried about keeping fit and being able to compete in qualifying events and other competitions ahead of the scheduled Games from July 24-Aug. 9.

“As an ex-judoka and coach in the sport, I learned that every athlete’s dream is to go to the Olympics in top form,” said COB president Paulo Wanderley.

“It’s clear that right now maintaining the games for this year will impede this dream from being fully realised.”

The COB stressed it still had full confidence in the IOC but said a move was the best solution.

“The IOC has gone through immense problems before, with the episodes that ended in the cancellation of the Games in 1916 and 1940, because of the world wars, and the boycotts of Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984,” Wanderley said in a statement posted on the COB website.

“They knew how to overcome these obstacles and the Olympic flame is stronger than ever.”

Brazil hosted the last summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The South American nation had its best ever performance, finishing 13th in the medals table with seven golds, six silvers and six bronzes.

United States Track and Field called for the Olympics to be postponed earlier on Saturday.

(This story refiles to remove wrong date in quote in para 6)

Writing by Andrew Downie in London, editing by Ed Osmond

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