Australian Olympic Committee Still Preparing Athletes For Tokyo 2020
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has declared it does "not live in a bubble" and is fully aware of the global health crisis but is still going ahead with its planning and preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games in Japan.
Addressing the media today Matt Carroll, CEO at the AOC, said the organisation had "put questions" to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the health and safety precautions that will be taken in order to ensure the safety of its competitors.
"We want to get them there safely and get them home safely. My role is to adapt planning and preparations to the here and now," he said.
"The health and wellbeing of Australian athletes is the priority of the Australian Olympic Committee."
According to Carroll it is still full steam ahead in regard to planning and preparation for the global event, but given it doesn't take place for another 16 weeks, the AOC acknowledges things may change.
"There is a global health crisis. We recognise people are suffering. People are sick, people are losing their jobs, businesses are struggling, amid enormous community uncertainty -- things are changing every day," he told reporters during a media conference Thursday.
The IOC set up a task force in February to help direct its decision making.
According to Carroll, that task force is often meeting daily and includes representatives from WHO, who he said are providing "frank advice".
"The [IOC] president emphasised the IOC is not in an Olympic bubble. They, like us, are fully aware of the impact of COVID-19 on athlete preparation, their families, and the world community," Carroll said.
Speaking alongside Carroll, Ian Chesterman, Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team, said the AOC will be taking additional measures to protect its athletes.
These measures include organising chartered flights to ensure the isolation period that athletes may have been undertaking is protected on their way to the games, or delaying their arrival at the athlete's village until the very last minute.
It is also considering 'base camp' options where athletes will arrive at the host country earlier and set themselves up in a more controlled environment.
Measures must also be tailored to each sport.
"We will work with with the sports to come up with the best plan for them, their athletes and to emphasise, there won't be one giant base camp for Australia before the games, we will look at a range of options, bespoke solutions for each sport," Chesterman said.
"There's still a lot of uncertainty and we accept that... if everybody is planning for the games, we must plan for the games as well, because that's our obligation to the athletes.
"We know the athletes also want to be there. We need to be able to deliver them safely and get them home safe safely."
He described looking at the situation from the eyes of the athletes who have spent their entire lives preparing for this event.
"Athletes who worked for four years, eight years, 12 and more in some cases, they want their Olympic moment. For many this will be their only opportunity to be at an Olympic Games.
The event is still scheduled to kick off on July 24.
There are currently almost 900 cases of coronavirus in Japan.
More to come.