Athletes Left With More Questions Than Answers Following IOC Call
The IOC yesterday morning conducted a two-hour conference call with 200 athlete reps from around the world and half a dozen IOC officials, including President Thomas Bach, and rather than "reassuring the athletes, the call left a number of them flummoxed," according to Keh & Panja of the N.Y. TIMES. Participants on the call said that IOC officials "sidestepped many questions or provided vague answers on a number of pressing issues, including potential alternative plans" for the Tokyo Games. There was "widespread concern afterward that the organization seemed not to acknowledge the global health impact of its actions." Resistance to the IOC's "insistence on pushing forward with the Games is growing." For example, Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco said that holding the Games as scheduled "would be unfair to athletes from his country and from other places where gyms, pools and training centers have been shut down." Multiple people in the session asked the IOC officials about a "so-called no-go date," as well as about the "specific conditions that would have to be met for the event to go on as planned." But they were told that there was "no such date, and no details on decision-making were offered" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/19). USATF Athletes Advisory Committee Chair Jeff Porter said, "When folks had asked if they had any backup plans or contingencies, the only thing they did mention is that there is a plan,” but he added that IOC officials declined to provide details (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/19).
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: In DC, Barry Svrluga notes now athletes are "caught in the middle and have no clear idea how to proceed." USOC Athletes' Advisory Council Chair Han Xiao said that his council "does not have an official position on whether the Olympics should be postponed or canceled." He added that currently, athletes are "against cancellation," but also said that "more athletes are open to the idea of postponement" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/19). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes, "No one wants to see the Olympics and Paralympics postponed. But it’s the right thing to do, the responsible thing to do." The IOC is "hyper-sensitive to the fact athletes have sweated and sacrificed for most of their lives for an event that only comes around every four years." But this is "new territory," a situation which "presents a variety of challenges that make it impossible to go forward with the Games as scheduled" (USA TODAY, 3/19). In N.Y., Dennis Young notes, "At a bare minimum, it does not seem like the Olympics will start in July" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/19).