Global Athlete has added its voice to those calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed this summer due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The IOC sparked controversy earlier this week by insisting it remains “fully committed” to the planned start date of July 24 despite the pandemic having brought sporting events around the globe to a standstill in the past couple of weeks.
Athletes from several sports have criticised the IOC’s advice that they continue to prepare for the Games “as best they can” given the huge disruption already caused.
Now Global Athlete, an athlete-led movement, has joined the likes of US Track and Field and the Spanish Football Federation in saying the Games should be delayed.
A statement said: “Athletes want to be part of a solution to ensure the Games are a success but under the current global restrictions that are limiting public gatherings as well as closing training facilities and borders, athletes do not have the ability to appropriately prepare for these Games and their health and safety must come first.
“Sport has a duty of care to protect their athletes. Public health must be a priority over sporting event.
“By asking (athletes) to carry on as normal and continue to train for these Games clearly puts their physical and mental health at risk.
“We all recognise the Games provided a unique ability to bring together countries and unite a divided world. That is why waiting is so important.
“With meaningful collective athlete engagement, a future Games could act as a celebration showcasing that we all did our part in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The statement further called on broadcasters and sponsors to show “flexibility and understanding” in allowing the Games to be staged safely.
On Saturday, US Track and Field sent an email calling for the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to make representations about delaying the Games as the “right and responsible thing to do” in the circumstances.
USA Swimming, meanwhile, had already asked the USOPC to push for a one-year postponement as the impact of the lockdown began to hit home.
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.”
The Spanish Football Federation also called for this summer’s Olympics to be postponed.
President of the RFEF Luis Rubiales made the request to IOC committee member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr at a meeting with other Spanish sports federations, the governing body said in a statement.
Former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has tested positive for coronavirus, his Chinese club Shandong Luneng have announced.
“The official test confirmed that the player Fellaini has tested positive for the coronavirus during the quarantine observation period,” the club said in a statement.
“During this period, the player’s body temperature has been normal and there are no other discomforts. He has received further observation and treatment at a designated medical institution.”
In Australia, the National Rugby League has vowed to continue with their season until the Australian government advises them not to.
The NRL began its season behind closed doors last week and ARL chairman Peter V’landys stated the intention is to proceed with the competition until they are encouraged to shut down matches.