We are currently going through some challenging and uncertain times that none of us have been through before. This global pandemic is worrying for everyone as we all have our immediate family and friends as well as a network of contacts in sport all over the world who are in a similar situation to us. Earlier this week I spent almost four hours on the phone to the IOC with other European Olympic Committees and as part of the Athlete 365 teleconference listening to briefings.
Working with the facts and having some clarity on IOC plans is absolutely paramount at this point. With the lack of knowledge and unpredictability of how Covid19 will develop and impact on Games qualification and preparation, the IOC have established a number of expert groups tasked with gathering 24/7 information and data from all over the world to provide both daily updates, advice and key recommendations to the IOC. This gives us confidence and a consistency of message that we are not necessarily seeing through the media.
Right now, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are going ahead and consequently we want to emphasise to athletes and sport that while it is extremely difficult, we must continue to plan towards a 24 July opening. Nobody can predict the future, but as athletes and staff who will be the heart-beat and soul of Team Ireland we need purpose and a goal. Over the coming weeks there will be further clarity around new or adjusted qualification processes which are being driven by your International Federations right now. A key part of these changes is the commitment to being fair and equitable, and to not bring politics into decision-making. However, what we do know is that regardless of the intent of the IOC and the Federations, for some sports the qualification landscape will change and that it is very difficult to find solutions that suit and are acceptable to everyone.
Here at the OFI our staff group continue to focus on the many tasks that need to be addressed and completed over the coming months. We are well advanced in our planning for Tokyo in all areas and have invested considerable time working with Performance Directors and your coaches to understand your preparatory and competition needs and identify opportunities to both support and add value to performance. Our partnership with the Sport Ireland Institute and the close working relationship we have with SINI also gives us confidence that many things are in place to support Team Ireland at the Games.
While we know that for some of you, your training and routines are disrupted and there is a high level of anxiety of what is to come, we encourage you to follow the government advice on social isolation and the directives provided to you by the Institute and your sports to stay safe. It is an unsettling time but being responsible in minimizing risks and maintaining perspective on not just your own situation but the bigger picture of what other people, communities and countries are facing is imperative. This global crisis is so much bigger than sport and in less than ideal circumstances we must dig deep to maintain our individual focus and to support each other, in and outside of sport.