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Blake: Abandonment of 2020 Olympics would be disastrous

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2020 | 12:20 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Dr Warren Blake
Dr Warren Blake

Jamaica Athletics Administration Association (JAAA) president, Dr Warren Blake, says a possible cancellation of this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, due to the coronavirus break would be calamitous

His comments came after senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound said ‘all indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual’ but he believes that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics this summer, the organisers are more likely to cancel the Games altogether than to postpone or move it.

Pound, in an interview with the Associated Press, estimated that there is a two- to three-month window in which a final decision could be made as to the future of the games. It means the IOC and the local organisers could wait until May to make this decision.

Blake told The Gleaner that an ­abandonment would be ‘disastrous’ as Tokyo has made an enormous investment into hosting the Games.

“That would be disastrous not just for track and field but for sports in general,” he said while acknowledging that it ­(abandonment) will always be on cards if the virus is not brought under control.

He also said moving the Games would not be practical at this time.

“Not many countries would have the level of readiness to host it,” Blake said.

At present 113 persons in Japan have been stricken with the illness, with one fatality according to the latest report by the World Health Organization. Eighty thousand persons have been affected worldwide. Various events on the Asian continent have already been moved or postponed due to the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) general secretary and CEO Ryan Foster said that the safety of athletes is their first priority and they will be guided by the IOC and the local ­organising committee.

“Of course, we would want to have a successful Olympic Games. However, the safety of our national representatives is paramount to us,” he said.

To date only three Olympic Games in the modern era have been cancelled. The 1916, 1940 and 1944 Olympics were called off due to the First and Second World Wars.