Russia backs IOC’s plan for Tokyo Olympics

Commuters sit in a train carrying a poster showing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics mascot, Miraitowa, in Tokyo, Monday, March 23, 2020. (AP Photo)

Russia has backed the International Olympic Committee’s approach of taking time to consider postponing the Tokyo Games and condemned the body's critics.

The IOC says it will make a decision within four weeks and the Russian Olympic Committee endorsed that plan by calling for “complete support.”

The ROC says “we view as unacceptable any attempts to bring pressure on the organizations in charge responsible of staging the games and to force them to take rash decisions.”

Canada has said it will boycott the Tokyo Olympics unless they are postponed and Australia has called for athletes to prepare for a 2021 event.

Russia was faced with sending a neutral team to the Tokyo Olympics under sanctions from the World Anti-Doping Agency. But those measures can’t be implemented until there’s a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where hearings have been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. It’s unclear whether CAS could still rule before the Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to start July 24.

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The Spanish soccer federation and the Spanish league say the suspension of professional soccer in the country will continue until government officials “consider that they can be resumed without creating any health risk.”

The soccer competitions had been initially suspended for two weeks, but on Sunday the government said the country’s state of emergency would likely be extended, meaning the entire nation may have to remain in lockdown until at least April 11.

Spanish authorities say more than 33,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the country, with 2,182 deaths.

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The Azerbaijan Grand Prix has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The latest postponement means there will be no Formula One races until the middle of June at the earliest.

The race at the Baku City Circuit was scheduled for June 7.

The first seven races of the Formula One season had already either been postponed or canceled.

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A group representing track and field athletes has called for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Athletics Association's statement comes a day after the International Olympic Committee set itself a four-week deadline to decide on a delay.

Athletics Association president Christian Taylor and vice president Emma Coburn say “we’re imploring the IOC to announce the postponement of Tokyo 2020 Olympics much sooner than in four weeks’ time.”

Taylor is a long jumper and Coburn is a runner. Both competed for the United States at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The group says more than 4,000 athletes have responded to a survey it conducted, with a large majority favoring postponement.

Dina Asher-Smith, the world champion in the 200 meters, has also called for a quicker decision by the IOC.

The British sprinter writes on Twitter “does this mean that athletes face up to another FOUR weeks of finding ways to fit in training - whilst potentially putting ourselves, coaches, support staff and loved ones at risk just to find out they were going to be postponed anyway.”

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The Australian Olympic Committee has advised its athletes to prepare for an Olympics in 2021.

Ian Chesterman, Australia's team leader for Tokyo, says “it’s clear the games can’t be held in July."

“Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them," Chesterman said in a statement released Monday by the Australian Olympic Committee.

AOC chief executive Matt Carroll says Australia has athletes based overseas and training in central locations around the country.

"With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation," Carroll said.

The Canadian Olympic Committee earlier said it won't send athletes to the Tokyo Games unless they are postponed for a year, becoming the first country to threaten such a move in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee sent out a statement Sunday evening saying it was willing to help the IOC search for alternatives, but that it was not safe for athletes, “their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these games.”

The IOC says it is considering all options. The Tokyo Games are scheduled to start July 24.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics would be unavoidable if the games cannot be held in a complete way because of the coronavirus impact.

He was commenting on the International Olympic Committee plan to examine the situation over the next few weeks and make a decision, which could include a postponement.

Abe, speaking at a parliamentary session, ruled out the possibility of a cancellation.

Whether Tokyo can hold the Olympics as planned from July 24 has been a major international concern as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread globally.