German Swimmers’ Vote For Tokyo 2020 Postponement; DSV Rules Out July Olympics

Florian Wellbrock (R) of Germany celebrates after winning in the men's 1500m Freestyle Final while third placed Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy looks on during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 28 July 2019.
Double World champion Florian Wellbrock was gunning for gold at Tokyo 2020 - it may now be Tokyo 2021 - for his own health and out of solidarity for the Italian in the next lane, defending Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

The German Swimming Federation (DSV) has said that it will not be sending a team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games if they are held in July.

The federation called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) run by German Thomas Bach to come to a sift decision on the fate of the Tokyo 2020 Games after 80% of the national team voted for postponement and 90% of a poll of swimmers said that to stick to the Games as planned would be “unfair”.

On a day when all federal high performance training centres across German  were closed and all non-essential travel banned across the whole of Germany, DSV-performance sports director Thomas Kurschilgen, said:

“… we cannot ask our athletes to expose themselves and their fellow human beings at risk for the sake of keeping alive the Olympic dream this summer”.

“We see a shift in sentiment [towards postponement], for reasons of health, care, of solidarity towards society and in terms of fairness in sport,” he noted in a statement, adding:

“We want to see the IOC deliver a fast and above all responsible decision that shows true leadership and recognises the welfare of the athletes that all interested parties must make their priority.”

He criticised Bach’s announcement yesterday of a four-week period of deliberation before a decision on Tokyo 2020 could be made, saying:

“The 4-week period announced by the IOC on the way to a decision is much too long given the current situation [on the pandemic]. This crisis calls for faster decisions and consideration of the options across all sport.”

He pointed to the difficulty athletes are facing around the world when he noted:

“In Germany and around the world athletes are training in tremendously difficult conditions if they even have the chance to train at all. That stretches to training facilities, the suspension of qualifying competitions, the imposition of  curfews and an anti-doping system that is simply not working well.”

Kurschilgen looked at the numbers of a poll of athletes and noted:  “Our survey of the Olympic and prospective DSV team athletes conducted yesterday shows that more than 80 percent of the athletes  favour a shift in the dates of the Games, while nearly 90 percent regards keeping things as they are as unfair.”

In a message that reminded the IOC to consider the full picture of impact that the pandemic is having, Kurschilgen added: “Equally, it is evident that current training difficulties and the lack of focus and overall planning uncertainty have ramped up psychological pressure to overload.

“We therefore consider the postponement of the Olympic Games for at least a year to be a realistic option. “

With a nod to the closure of training bases, Kurschilgen concluded:

“At a time when we are following very carefully weighed decisions in the public handling of the entire population of Germany, we cannot ask our athletes to expose themselves and their fellow human beings at risk for the sake of keeping alive the Olympic dream this summer. At times like these we all need to act in solidarity.”


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