IOC Boxed Into Corner Over Coronavirus Cases As Tokyo Reshuffle Shakes Swimming’s Cherry Tree


The International Olympic Committee has been accused of putting athletes’ health in jeopardy after two Turkish boxers and their head coach tested positive for coronavirus after returning home from an Olympic boxing tournament in London last week.

In an exclusive report, The Guardian newspaper quotes Eyup Gozgec, the president of the Turkish Boxing Federation, stating that all three men had caught COVID-19 in London and that “the Road To Tokyo event at the Copper Box Arena should have never taken place during a pandemic”. Says Gozgec:

“While the whole world was taking extreme measures to deal with the virus, I am baffled that an IOC taskforce and the British government allowed the tournament to start even though many of us had concerns and almost every other sport had shut down. It was irresponsible. And as a result, unfortunately three of our team have now tested positive.”

Half a day later, the story took on more weight when the BBC revealed that the count of three coronavirus cases had risen to six members of boxing teams at the London event, when Croatia said two of its fighters and a coach had tested positive.

Meanwhile, Australian IOC member John Coates is cited by the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri as saying that Olympic bosses want to nail the date for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games “between the Wimbledon and US Open tennis Grand Slam events”.

Wimbledon is scheduled from June 28 to July 11, the US Open August 30 to September 12, next year. That leaves the “precisely one-year-on” scenario among the favourite dates for the re-arranged Tokyo Games, which will retain the title Tokyo 2020, not Tokyo 2021.

That kind of timing would almost certainly cause FINA to have to consider moving the World Swimming Championships or incorporating them into the Olympic Games as a backstop plan. Incorporation is unlikely if contracts with Fukuoka are to be honoured, however.

The FINA global showcase of aquatics is down for July 16 to August 1.

Coates’ reflections of Tokyo 2020 postponement in the run up to the tardy announcement on Tuesday shifted with the wind and as such, his view about squeezing the Games in a window between tennis Grand Slams, is no more accurate than other speculation, which includes a “Cherry-Blossom” Games to coincide with the spectacular blooming of cherry  trees across Japan from early April for up to six weeks.


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