Yesterday the Athletes’ Commission took part in a teleconference call with over 200 athlete reps from around the world, conducted by the IOC with President Thomas Bach and IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry leading the call.
We know that there is a lot of uncertainty, and some mixed messages that athletes are receiving at the moment, so we wish to pass on the most up to date and accurate information that we have at this moment from the IOC, in the simplest way we can.
If any athletes have any further questions or concerns that are not addressed below, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will aim to address them, or to find answers for your queries.
IOC Statement HERE
Olympic Federation of Ireland Statement HERE
WHEN WILL THE OLYMPIC GAMES TAKE PLACE?
The IOC have stated that all athletes should be working towards the Olympic Games taking place in July as per the outlined schedule. In their communication they also emphasized that the Olympic Games will only be run when two overriding principles are considered:
“We will continue to act in a responsible way and have agreed the following overriding principles about the staging of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020:
- To protect the health of everyone involved and to support the containment of the virus.
- To safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport.”
WHY ARE THEY NOT CANCELLING OR POSTPONING?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is advising the IOC on an hourly basis, and while there are a lot of different opinions about what might happen with Covid-19, nobody has the full truth. The advice they are getting and working off is that it is too early to make any drastic decision, and that we should be working towards the usual start time in July.
IS THERE A PLAN B?
The IOC emphasised that any talk of a Plan B or alternative contingency plans will lead to uncertainty for athletes and confusion. They reiterated several times during the call the danger of speculation, and acknowledged that athletes need a goal to work towards – the goal right now is July 24 – Aug 9
WHAT HAPPENS NOW THAT ALL THE QUALIFICATION EVENTS ARE CANCELLED/POSTPONED?
For many athletes, this is a major concern, especially for those who have not yet achieved qualification. The IOC have tasked the International Federations to restructure the qualification system for sports in light of these unusual circumstances. There is no doubt that the current status will not suit everyone, and that these are difficult times, that are completely unprecedented. The IOC and IFs have agreed the following six measures to ensure that given the circumstances the fairest allocation of the remaining places will be decided:
“To date, 57 per cent of the athletes are already qualified for the Games. For the remaining 43 per cent of places, the IOC will work with the IFs to make any necessary and practical adaptations to their respective qualification systems for Tokyo 2020, in line with the following principles:
- All quota places that have already been allocated to date remain allocated to the NOCs and athletes that obtained them.
- The possibility remains to use existing and scheduled qualification events, wherever these still have fair access for all athletes and teams.
- All necessary adaptations to qualification systems and all allocation of remaining places will be:
- a) based on on-field results (e.g. IF ranking or historical results); and
- b) reflect where possible the existing principles of the respective qualification systems (e.g. use of rankings or continental/regional specific event results).
Any increase in athlete quotas will be considered on a case-by-case basis under exceptional circumstances, with the support of the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020.”
IF MY SPORT HAS ALREADY QUALIFIED A SPOT WILL IT KEEP IT
So far 57% of athlete spots have been allocated by the IOC – these athletes or nations will keep these spots. The new qualification process will be for the remaining 43% of unallocated athletes.
HOW CAN WE ENSURE THE NEW QUALIFICATION SYSTEM WILL BE FAIR?
The International Federations know their sports and environment best, and they will look to apply the best and most fair systems to the new structure. In some cases it will look at retrospective results or rankings, and what they will consider is the global impact of Covid-19. For example some athletes haven’t been able to compete in events that have been taking place in recent months due to travel restrictions – the interests of athletes globally will be considered when applying fair new systems.
ARE THE DECISIONS THAT ARE BEING MADE BEING INFLUENCED BY MONEY
The IOC emphasized that this is not a financial decision (to run the Games in July), and that the IOC have a risk management policy in place as well as insurance in the case of the IOC not being able to run the Olympic Games.
WILL THERE BE ANY MEASURES IN PLACE FOR ATHLETES IN JULY TO ENSURE ATHLETES AREN’T EXPOSED TO COVID-19?
This coming Saturday (21 March) there will be clarification around a detailed quarantine process that Tokyo will outline for athletes and nations around the Olympic Games – more information to come.
WHAT IF I WAS INJURED LAST YEAR AND AM HAVING A GOOD YEAR NOW BUT NO QUALIFICATION EVENTS?
This goes back to the International Federations working on new qualification systems in sports that they are familiar with. Each sport is being looked at in a case by case manner. Thomas Bach emphasised that all qualification allocations will be based on field of play results and will not be based on political decisions. If you have specific concerns around this – talk to your Performance Director who will raise it with the Chef de Mission – Tricia Heberle.
WILL THE GAMES BE HELD BEHIND CLOSED DOORS?
The IOC don’t want it to be behind closed doors – and they don’t want to speculate or add to any speculation around this subject, but they reiterated that it is too early to discuss this notion.
WHAT IF I TARGETED EVENTS OVER OTHERS THAT WERE CANCELLED, WHEN THE OTHER EVENTS WEREN’T?
This is why the IFs are tasked with the qualification process, they are familiar with the environment, and will choose the fairest system for athletes that allows for equal opportunity. The IOC highlighted that it does not mean that all athletes will be happy with the decisions but that the IF will help find the best and fairest system.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Athlete 365 is an extremely useful resource for all elite athletes who are on the Olympic pathway and is updated regularly. This is a service run by the IOC, and provides up to date reliable and relevant information for athletes year round, including the impact that the Coronavirus is having on Olympic sport. It is important that when you get information that it is accurate and factual. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION