Sebastian Coe calls for Olympics to be postponed in dramatic U-turn

Sebastian Coe, as President of the International Association of Athletics Federation, was saying only last week it was too early to call off the Games (PA Images)
11:41am, Mon 23 Mar 2020
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Sebastian Coe has decided the time has come to postpone the Olympic Games.

As head of world athletics, Coe has written to Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, urging him to delay Tokyo 2020.

But just four days later, the IAAF president has said he believes now is the time for the IOC to step up and push back the Games, which are due to begin on July 24.

He said: "No-one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but as I have said publicly, we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, and a decision on the Olympic Games must become very obvious very quickly.

"I believe that time has come and we owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can. 

"Every one of my area presidents believes that we can no longer expect a fair and level playing field in our sport given the number of athletes who are struggling to train in various countries due to measures put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

"If athletes are unable to train properly now we both know, as we have both been there, they will push themselves even harder closer to an Olympic Games, which will increase the propensity for injury.

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"The uncertainty of the Olympic Games happening in July and the inherent desire and motivation to excel that resides in all our athletes is causing real anguish that we can, collectively, put a stop to."

Meanwhile, IOC President Bach published his own letter to athletes who are in limbo as to whether to train or not four months out from potentially the biggest competition of their careers.

And in the letter he did discuss the possibility of postponing the Games, but insists that at this moment it remains a logistical nightmare to change the dates.

He said: "A number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not be available any more.

"The situations with millions of nights already booked in hotels is extremely difficult to handle, and the international sports calendar for at least 33 Olympic sports would have to be adapted. These are just a few of many, many more challenges."