Coronavirus: Team GB chair fears there will be 'no way' to send Olympians to Tokyo

23 March 2020, 15:43

Hugh Robertson said there is 'no way' Team GB could prepare properly
Hugh Robertson said there is 'no way' Team GB could prepare properly. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

There is "no way" athletes can prepare properly for the Tokyo Olympics if the coronavirus pandemic continues, the Team GB boss has said.

Hugh Robertson, the chair of the British Olympics Association, said he couldn't see "any way we can send a team" and that he expected to be "joining Canada and Australia shortly" in their decisions to pull out of the tournament.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, he said: "I think it's very simple. If the virus continues as predicted by the government, I don't think there is any way we can send a team.

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"And I base that on two things. Firstly, I don't see any way that the athletes and Team FB could be ready by then.

"Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.

"Second, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this.

"We are actually in a process where we are talking to all our sports. We will complete that over the next couple of days."

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The 57-year-old went on to say he agreed with a four-week pause already in place from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but said he still held reservations about the event going ahead.

He added: "We can't see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted at the moment and I expect we will be joining Canada and Australia shortly."

His comments came after a Downing Street spokesman had earlier called for a "definitive decision" to be made soon on the Games.

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The spokesman said: "Athletes are facing significant uncertainty in the current environment.

"Their health and safety, alongside that of sports fans and officials due to work at the Games must be absolutely paramount.

"We want the International Olympic Committee to make a definitive decision soon to bring clarity to all those involved."

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The IOC has been repeatedly urged for a decision on the tournament in recent weeks as other major sporting events were also postponed or cancelled.

On Sunday evening, the committee said it was increasing its scenario planning for postponement, but said a cancellation was "not on the agenda".