Matthew Pinsent tells chiefs to postpone 2020 Olympics as four-time champ slams ‘tone deaf’ coronavirus response – The Sun

SIR MATTHEW PINSENT has told the IOC and Tokyo chiefs to postpone the Olympics.

The four-time Olympic champion rower, 49, is the biggest name in British sport to call for a delay to the summer Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach tried to downplay fears, saying there are more than four months to go until the opening ceremony on July 24.

But Sir Matthew told him: “I’m sorry, Mr Bach, but this is tone deaf.

“The instinct to keep safe — not to mention obey government instructions to lock down — is not compatible with athlete training, travel and focus that a looming Olympics demands of athletes, spectators and organisers. Keep them safe. Call it off.”

On Tuesday there was a dramatic intervention from retired ice hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser, a member of the influential IOC Athletes’ Commission.

The Canadian claimed the IOC were “insensitive and irresponsible” by pushing on with plans for the Games in the current time slot of July 24 to August 9.

Responding to those comments, Pinsent said: “Brave and exactly what a member of the IOCAC should be able to voice.

“If the health of athletes, spectators and organisers are the No 1 priority for the IOC there is only one choice.

“The IOC revenues are first out — sponsors/TV all pay each year.

“The host city itself will get hammered over a delay. But what choice do they have?

“Any event in the next four months that requires hundreds of thousands of people travelling internationally is plainly unwise. That is obvious, surely?"

I’m expecting the Olympics to be postponed and think that would be the best-case scenario

The last time the Olympics were cancelled was during the Second World War.

Gymnast Becky Downie echoed the view of many Team GB athletes and admitted she had been left in limbo as other top sporting events are cancelled.

The 28-year-old said: “When you’re training and you don’t know what for, it definitely affects the intensity.

“I’m expecting the Olympics to be postponed and think that would be the best-case scenario.

“A cancellation would be devastating after all the hard work I’ve put in.

“I wanted to end my career at the Olympics and if it was cancelled, I don’t know if I’d want to move into the next cycle in order to finish things on my own terms.

“It’s just the not knowing that is really hard at this stage.


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“Nobody is going to be able to keep up the same intensity for the next 12 months. And if clubs and gyms start cancelling, that is even more problematic.

“It would be ideal if we could find out in the next few weeks whether it is going to go ahead.

“I can’t really see how it can still happen in the summer.

“But I have to just take it one day at a time and try not to panic.”

Up to 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians are set to descend on Tokyo this summer.

The IOC said: “This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions.

“We are committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes’ health.

“No solution will be ideal and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes.”

British star Katarina Johnson-Thompson claimed Olympic athletes have been left in limbo by the IOC over the COVID-19 crisis.

The heptathlon world champion said enforced government isolation makes training routines almost “impossible”.

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