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IOC’s Coates refutes claims Olympic organisers are ‘underplaying the challenge’ posed by Coronavirus

IOC’s Coates refutes claims Olympic organisers are ‘underplaying the challenge’ posed by Coronavirus
March 17, 2020

Senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official John Coates has maintained that the body is not "underplaying the challenge" posed to the Tokyo 2020 Games.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Coates maintained the IOC and Tokyo 2020's stance that the Games will open as planned on 24th July.

Coates, the head of the Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020 as well as being President of the International Olympic Committee, conducted the interview having met with IOC President Thomas Bach in Switzerland last week.

Promising flexible rules for athletes as a result of the Coronavirus forcing the cancellation of numerous qualification events, h told The Australian "no-one is underplaying the challenge, but the challenges are all matters we should be able to address

"There's confidence in the Japanese and he (Bach) has given me instructions to make sure we are as flexible as possible with amending qualification rules for federations.

"That will happen."

Coates - who will self-isolate for 14 days as part of Australia's border controls after visiting the IOC's Swiss headquarters in Lausanne and Greece for the lighting of the Tokyo 2020 Torch - insisted the IOC was regularly updating National Olympic Committees and International Federations amid growing international concern over the spread of the Coronavirus.

He added "what pleases me, while some are being critical, some of these (COVID-19) countermeasures weren't introduced earlier, in Europe particularly, at least it means they are being introduced, athletes and populations are being protected in these countries.

"I think it is a very good move, that containment that has taken place, we have four months to go on this, you know.

"We have full confidence in their ability."

The Australian Olympic Committee President also said the IOC having until May to take a decision on whether the Games go ahead - providing a call needs to be made - was solely the opinion of fellow IOC Vice-President Dick Pound.

Pound told the Associated Press the IOC would have to decide if the virus is "under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not" by that time.

Image: John Coates.

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