Everyone at the British Olympic Association (BOA) recognises the unprecedented times we are currently facing. Our primary concern is for those in our society dealing with the impact of COVID-19, specifically anyone affected directly by the virus, and the countless individuals and organisations that are working tirelessly to protect our communities.
This is a fast moving and developing international crisis with very serious consequences, and we appreciate that sport is of a secondary importance when it comes to the health and wellbeing of the population. Following conference calls that have taken place between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Federations, National Olympic Committees and athletes’ representatives this week, we are determined to work with our international Olympic colleagues to ensure we find the most appropriate outcome for the Games, scheduled for four months’ time, in light of the growing seriousness of COVID-19.
For many athletes, in common with their contemporaries across the world, preparation and/or qualification journeys are now being affected. Whilst we acknowledge the IOC are doing their best to ensure that the qualification process remains fair for all athletes across all sports, we are in regular dialogue with them on this matter, as it is clear there are significant challenges developing in training and qualification programmes that will have a major impact between now and the Games.
It is imperative to preserve competitive integrity for athletes, but it is clearly only wise for athletes to continue to prepare for the Games where it is safe and appropriate to do so, within relevant Government and public health guidelines.
As of the date of this statement (19.03.20), the IOC and the local Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (TOCOG), have confirmed there is no change to the status of the Games happening between 24 July – 9 August 2020. The BOA will support the ongoing decision-making process and input wherever necessary.
However, we can be categorically clear that we will not endanger the health and wellbeing of the athletes or wider delegation at any point.
We will remain in regular contact with TOCOG, the IOC and British Embassy in Tokyo, as well as our National Governing Bodies, agencies and athletes’ commission and will continue to follow Government, World Health Organisation and Public Health England guidelines in monitoring any ongoing change of advice over the course of the next four months.