Tokyo 2020: Russia hits out at Olympics rivals for trying to pressure IOC into cancelling Games

Jack de Menezes
The Russian Olympic Committee has called on nations to stop pressuring the IOC into cancelling Tokyo 2020: AFP via Getty

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has hit out at the likes of Australia, Canada and the United States for attempting to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into postponing Tokyo 2020.

The Olympics are due to get underway on 24 July in Japan but look certain to be postponed at the very least due to the coronavirus outbreak, with talks taking place today between IOC president Thomas Bach and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe among others ahead of a decisive executive board meeting next Monday.

A decision is expected to be taken in the coming days to delay Tokyo 2020, although officials have been insistent that a full cancellation of the Games is not an option.

The developments come after the respective Olympic committees of Australia, Canada and New Zealand all withdrew their athletes from competition if it is staged this summer, while both the US and Britain have expressed views that the Games should not go ahead as planned. The British Olympic Association on Tuesday morning held a conference call with the British Paralympic Association and UK Sport, with the expectation being that athletes will be told that they will not be going to Tokyo this summer.

But the ROC has taken the opposite view, with a statement released calling on individual governing bodies to stop attempting to force the IOC into a rash move and urged them to show “Olympic calm”.

"Panic is the worst that can happen in the current situation," the ROC said in a statement.

"The ROC urges all the representatives of the sports community to keep Olympic calm, to act systematically and constructively while preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"We view as unacceptable any attempts to bring pressure on the organisations in charge of staging the Games and to force them to take rash decisions.”

Russia has been banned from competing at Tokyo 2020 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) following the doping scandal that also saw the nation miss the 2018 Winter Olympics, with clean athletes only allowed to compete under a neutral name and with no national anthem or flag representing them.

The doping scandal, which came to light in 2015, saw long-term institutional drugs use exposed that involved senior Russian officials and resulted in 47 Olympic medals being stripped from Russian athletes.

The Russian Olympic Committee has appealed Wada’s ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, although a hearing due to take place this year before the Games is now likely to be put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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