US Track and Field joins calls for Olympics to be postponed due to pandemic

By PA Sport Staff
PA Media: Sport

US Track and Field has become the most high-profile sporting body to call for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email, USATF urged the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to make representations about delaying the 2020 Games, as the “right and responsible thing to do” in the circumstances.

The intervention by USATF follows a statement from USA Swimming on Friday, asking the USOPC to advocate for a one-year postponement due to the tightening coronavirus lockdown.

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USATF chief executive Max Siegel wrote: “The right and responsible thing to do is prioritise everyone’s health and safety, and appropriately recognise the toll this difficult situation has, and continues to take, on our athletes and their Olympic Games preparations.

“We are all experiencing unfathomable disruptions, and everyone’s lives are being impacted accordingly.

“For those reasons, USATF is respectfully requesting that the (USOPC) advocate to the IOC for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.”

An increasing number of athletes are beginning to speak out over their fears for Tokyo 2020, particularly in relation to social distancing programmes which are making their training programmes impossible to pursue.

British discus thrower Jade Lally told BBC Sport: “I don’t think it should go ahead as planned. I don’t think July 24 should be the start. It’s too soon.

Jade Lally says athletes cannot prepare for the Olympics (Adam Davy/PA)
Jade Lally says athletes cannot prepare for the Olympics (Adam Davy/PA)

“I think the IOC are being very insensitive, and I don’t know if blase is maybe the right word, but they’re not thinking about things.

“They can’t tell us to train as normal, because nobody can train as normal. Literally nobody on the planet is training as they normally would.

“For the IOC to say just carry on as normal isn’t fair. It creates more doubt for us as athletes.”

The Spanish Football Federation also called for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics to be postponed.

President of the RFEF Luis Rubiales made the request to International Olympic Committee member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr at a meeting with other Spanish sports federations, the governing body said in a statement.

The meeting had been called by president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco.

Rubiales said in a statement: “At this time, health must prevail over any other issue and we must be on the side of our Government.

“Sport is our reason for being, but now it must be in the background. We continue to work for football and solutions for this sector, however, now the duty as Spaniards is to stay united and to suspend all sports events.”

Four Portsmouth players – James Bolton, Andy Cannon, Sean Raggett and Haji Mnoga – have tested positive for the virus.

Pompey’s players were tested following their FA Cup clash against Arsenal after several of the Gunners squad had been in contact with Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis on the night of their Europa League tie.

Marinakis confirmed he had the virus on March 10.

Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin told the club’s website: “Football is not immune from this virus and I can assure you that it only really hits home when those that you know contract it.”

On Saturday evening, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala confirmed he and his partner Oriana Sabatini had tested positive for the virus.

“Hi everyone, I just wanted just to inform you that we have received the results for the Covid-19 test and both Oriana and I have tested positive. Luckily we are in perfect conditions. Thanks for your messages,” the Argentina forward said on Twitter, now the third Juve player affected after defender Daniele Rugani and midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

Southampton chief executive Martin Semmens, meanwhile, insists everyone is hopeful of completing the Premier League season by the end of June – but stressed no one can be sure when football in this country will resume.

English football is currently suspended until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the decision confirmed on Thursday after a meeting of the sport’s governing bodies.

No date for the Premier League or English Football League to resume is pencilled in, but one big issue is players who will be out of contract on June 30.

Saints chief executive Semmens told BBC Radio Solent: “We hope to get the league done by the end of June and that would be easier for everybody. As soon as you go past that date there are then those legal challenges and issues that we have to fulfil.

“But if we end up playing until the 15th of July and you had to extend a players contract by two weeks, I just don’t think when you look at all the challenges the country is facing right now, to try and convince a player to play two more weeks football and get paid very nicely to do it before he moves to a new club, I don’t believe that will be a substantial challenge.

“The challenge is making sure we don’t have a knock-on effect into other seasons and make football compromised as the years go on.”

The 2020 Ice Hockey World Championship has been cancelled, the International Ice Hockey Federation has announced.

Great Britain were due to take part at the tournament which was scheduled to be played in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland from May 8-24.

On a more positive note Manchester United and Manchester City have donated a combined £100,000 to help food banks in Greater Manchester.

The city rivals have joined forces to help meet increased demand from vulnerable people as a result of the pandemic.

City and United fans’ groups usually collect supplies outside Old Trafford and the Etihad before home games, but this has been interrupted by the suspension of football.

Each club is giving £50,000 to the Trussell Trust, which supports a network of over 1,200 food bank centres, including 19 in the Greater Manchester area which will be the beneficiaries of the donation.

Celtic’s charity foundation has also announced it will spend £150,000 helping vulnerable people in the local area during the coronavirus pandemic.

The money, forming the Football For Good Fund, will be used to help community charities and food banks and feed 250 people every weekday at Celtic Park.

The fund aims to help the homeless, frontline NHS staff, vulnerable families,
pensioners and individuals affected by the crisis.

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