Bach points to Trump to defend Olympics decision

March 26, 2020
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

GENEVA (AP) :

A day after officially postponing the Tokyo Olympics, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach invoked comments by President Donald Trump to defend himself from criticism yesterday.

Bach spoke to about 400 reporters on a conference call and was quizzed why, despite growing concern from athletes, it took so long to postpone the Tokyo Games. He noted that many governments have imposed social limits only into next month and pointed to Trump's hope of easing restrictions by mid-April.

"In the last couple of weeks the measures of many governments, they were limited until middle of April, some beginning of May," the International Olympic Committee president said. "You have maybe seen the latest declarations there in the United States from President Trump about the prospect of middle of April to be able to lift many restrictions."

Mounting criticism

Bach and the IOC faced mounting criticism last week from athletes, including Olympic gold medallists, for continuing to publicly support holding the Tokyo Games as scheduled from July 24-August 9. The Canadian Olympic Committee said before the decision it would not send a team to Tokyo in 2020.

Even Trump said on March 12 at the White House that the Olympics should be postponed for a year.

The IOC board's eventual decision on Tuesday, with Japanese government agreement, to delay until 2021 came a day after the World Health Organisation said the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating.

Bach was also asked by a reporter from his native Germany if he had thought of resigning because of the athletes' criticism.

"No," he replied.

The postponement calls for the Tokyo Games to take place no later than the summer 2021, and Bach was asked about options if the pandemic continued into next year.

"We want, and we will, organise the games only in a safe environment," he said.

Although an exact one-year postponement to July 23-August 8 is possible, the Tokyo Games don't have to open in July.

"All the options are on the table," Bach said, adding that a task force of IOC and Japanese officials named "Here We Go" is looking at new dates.

"This task force can consider the broader picture. This is not just restricted to the summer months," Bach said.

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