MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Tokyo 2020 Olympics should be postponed by a year because coronavirus outbreaks worldwide have disrupted athletes’ preparations and could jeopardize their health, the head of Russia’s Boxing Federation said on Sunday.
The coronavirus has brought global sport to a virtual standstill in recent weeks, with major events being postponed or canceled as cases grow internationally.
Yet Tokyo Olympics organizers have said the Games, scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9, will go ahead as planned despite the rapid spread of the virus.
“I understand that there will be huge financial losses for the hosts and the organizers, but I think that the Olympics should be postponed by a year and held in 2021. That’s my opinion,” Umar Kremlev, the president of the Russian Boxing Federation, said in a statement.
Kremlev added it would not be fair to hold Olympic qualifying as late as May after European, Americas and final world qualifying boxing tournaments for the Tokyo Games were suspended earlier this month because of the virus.
“Athletes are focusing on their Olympic preparations and trying to reach these competitions at the peak of their form and now that preparation is broken,” Kremlev said.
“See how that virus is spreading. To hold the (Olympic) tournament as scheduled could be risky. The athletes’ health is more important.”
Russia is also in the process of appealing a four-year ban from competing under its flag at the Olympics and other major sporting events as punishment for having provided the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) with doctored laboratory data.
The appeal will be heard by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Toby Davis