At least one official is in favour of not having the Summer Games this summer.
So much so that Alwyn Babb believes Barbados shouldn’t attend the Olympics if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) still insists on staging the Games in July amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Barbados’ leading athletic coach contends the Tokyo Olympics should be postponed until later this year or early 2021, not only to ensure the athletes’ safety but to give them enough time to prepare for competition.
“The safety and health of the athletes and officials have to be everyone’s priority but even if the world gets this situation resolved by July we still haven’t given these athletes enough competition and a big enough training block to be ready for something as major as the Olympics,” said Babb, who coached at the 2012 and 2016 Games.
“There are athletes in Asia who probably have resumed training now but the rest of the world still can’t and if we are to go by the Games’ statutes of fair play and sportsmanship then we have to postpone so as not to disadvantage such great numbers of sportspeople.
“The events this side of the world have been cancelled. There are no NCAA meets. The tracks and gyms are all closed so there is no way these athletes can train and this is going into April, which doesn’t give them any time to prepare at all,” he added.
Babb made the comments just hours after International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound said the IOC will likely stage the Olympics next year in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The IOC is yet to make an official decision in light of possible litigation due to contractual obligations with the host city and broadcast partners NBC, who are rumoured to have already received more than $1 billion in advertising payments.
However, the IOC is already facing pressure to postpone the Olympics, with Canada and Australia having declared they will not send their athletes to the July 24 to August 9 Games.
And Babb believes Barbados should follow suit.
“I haven’t read to see what reason Canada has given for not attending the games, whether it be the presence of the virus or simple lack of a preparation period, but we need to take the health and safety concerns of our athletes and officials into serious consideration and also not attend if the Olympics are not postponed,” said Babb.
“The reality is there is life after this and the pandemic is greater than sports so the Olympics can be pushed back. At the same time the coaches have to find creative ways for their athletes to train in isolated areas so they can be ready for whenever these Games take place.”
IOC president Thomas Bach only went as far as to rule out cancelling the Olympics after revealing that he will take the next four weeks to decide the Games’ fate.
But Pound, one of the body’s most influential members for decades, said the Games will not start on July 24, “but the parameters going forward have not been determined”.
“We all recognise the situation is very fluid and the IOC has a task force in place to advise them so our position is that we will support the IOC as they try to work through this matter,” said Barbados Olympics Association president Sandra Osborne.
“The health and safety of the athletes is paramount at this time and any decision made will be in their interest. It is just for us to help the IOC in these trying times.”
Just days ago world renowned anti-doping official Dr Adrian Lorde publicly deemed the Olympics to be too big of a health risk to be staged in July.
Several athletes have also called for answers in wake of the pandemic Pound revealed the IOC’s possible postponement plans in an interview with USA Today.