Taiwan continues with Tokyo Olympic preparations: Olympic committee

Taiwan's Olympic Committee consultant Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群)
Taiwan's Olympic Committee consultant Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are going ahead as scheduled, with all athletes choosing if they want to participate or not due to the threat posed by COVID-19, according to a top Taiwanese Olympic Committee official Friday.

Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群), a consultant with Taiwan’s Olympic Committee, said preparations are still under way for the country’s delegation because there has been no official statement about the Olympics being delayed or canceled.

However, athletes will have to decide for themselves if they want to participate in the event and will not be pressured, he said.

Sun made the remark after the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the authority responsible for organizing the Olympic Games, teleconferenced the 45 national Olympic Committees in Asia Thursday.

Taiwan's Olympic Committee consultant Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群)
Taiwan’s Olympic Committee consultant Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群)

IOC President Thomas Bach reiterated during the meeting that a responsible attitude for disease prevention will be adopted, taking the safety of athletes as its core consideration, while also working together with the World Health Organization (WHO), Tokyo Olympics preparation committee, Japanese and Tokyo governments to monitor and curb the spread of the virus.

Bach has also talked on the phone with 220 athlete representatives from around the world to emphasize that the well-being of athletes is the primary consideration and the Olympics is not going ahead for financial reasons.

The threat of the coronavirus as it continues to wreak havoc around the world with whole city lockdowns and cancellations of major sporting events, has placed increasing pressure on the Summer Olympics and more athletes have complained about plans to go ahead with the games.

Even Japanese Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi has raised concerns and called for the event to be postponed, according to a Nikkei Asian Review report Friday.

Yamaguchi, a judo bronze medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, said the IOC is putting athletes at risk by asking them to train as usual during the coronavirus pandemic, the report said.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Blanco, president of Spain’s Olympic Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that his country’s athletes would be at a disadvantage if the Olympics are not postponed due to the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak in Spain.

Spain has the second most COVID-19 infections in Europe, after Italy, with 18,077 confirmed as of Friday and over 10,000 new infections recorded from March 16-19, according to WHO statistics. The country has had a total of 831 deaths.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has a total of 135 confirmed infections and two deaths as of Friday, according to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.