Coronavirus Outbreak: BWF Athletes' commissioner calls for postponement of Games until COVID-19 outbreak subsides

BWF Athletes' commissioner Zweibler added that while the Olympics can play a vital role in uniting people across the globe against the pandemic, the event can also turn catastrophic if held as planned.

Press Trust of India March 23, 2020 14:14:41 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: BWF Athletes' commissioner calls for postponement of Games until COVID-19 outbreak subsides

New Delhi: Badminton World Federation (BWF) Athletes' Commission chairperson Marc Zwiebler has called on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Tokyo Games until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, while also criticising the IOC's lack of communication.

Zwiebler wrote to the IOC's Athletes Commission after talking to the BWF and several athletes representatives from the sport.

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Representational image. AP Photo

"As you can imagine there is not one single opinion. Most athletes are fine with a decision about the games within the next few weeks but would only be happy with the Games going ahead if the well being and safety of all athletes, coaches, officials, fans and workers around the Games can be guaranteed," Zweibler wrote.

"We would have hoped for better communication and transparency from the IOC though. There is no shame in admitting not being in full control at the moment and we would rather see the human side of the IOC rather than catching up on a press statement that is issued to the rest of the world at the same time," he added.

With the number of infected people across the world crossing three lakh besides a death toll of more than 14,000, the IOC has come under tremendous pressure to push back the games, to be held from July 24 to August 9, from several sporting federations and athletes.

The coronavirus outbreak has wreaked havoc on the global sporting calendar as all major tournaments have been either postponed or cancelled.

IOC's decision to not postpone the celebrations before the Summer Games had led to tens of thousands of people flocking to a cauldron with the Olympic flame in northeastern Japan despite concerns over the pandemic.

"Saying that, pictures from the Olympic Flame being carried around isn't the most sensitive thing to do at the moment while 10,000s of people of fighting for their lives and even more are fighting for their economical existence," the letter said.

Zweibler added that while the Olympics can play a vital role in uniting people across the globe against the pandemic, the event can also turn catastrophic if held as planned.

"My personal view is that the Olympics and the Movement can have a key role to play In being a symbol of the global community defeating COVID 19."

"However, that does not mean that the Olympics need to take place in July 2020. In fact, in the current circumstances, holding the Games as planned' may have a detrimental impact on the image of the Games and its impact on spreading the Olympic values to the world."

The former German shuttler added that the IOC should encourage athletes to use their influence to help the local communities.

"I would prefer to see the IOC encouraging athletes to help the at-risk in their communities rather than encouraging them to keep on doing what they do which is a statement that is not only irresponsible but potentially dangerous for athletes and others health.

"At this time, we need to accept that the inspirational value of athletes is better harnessed in our local communities than on the global sporting stage."

"I hope the athletes as the Centre of the games will be listened to, addressed and informed by the IOC as soon as possible in an adequate way and not just in a press release."

The IOC on Sunday said it was looking at postponing the 2020 Olympics as one of its options and a decision will be made in the next four weeks.

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