The Australian Boomers will have to wait for their Olympic run likely in 2021, in the light of the uncertainty and health risk around the COVID-19 coronavirus situation.
According to a release on Monday, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has said that Australian athletes should prepare for "a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOC’s announcement of a potential postponement of this year’s Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe."
“We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programs. With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation," AOC chief executive, Matt Carroll said. “The IOC had adopted the key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport. This decision reflects those principles.
“We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty.”
“It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July. Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them," Australian Team Chef de Mission for Tokyo Ian Chesterman said. “They have also shouldered the burden of concern for their peers around the world. That has been a consistent message to me.”
“While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control. We are aware that for many such a postponement will present a range of new issues. But when the world does come together at the Tokyo Olympic Games they can be a true celebration of sport and humanity.”
Last week, during a Sydney Kings press conference, Boomers centre Andrew Bogut had confirmed that he would likely not be participating in the tournament, given the current climate.
“As far as going to the Olympics, as of today: no,” he said. “We know the IOC loves money, and they’re not gonna try to lose any. We know Japan’s built some beautiful, world class facilities, and they probably wanna recoup their investment. But, considering what’s going on in the rest of the world, you can’t see it going ahead.
“What they do - maybe they postpone it, maybe they push it to next year – that’s a decision for them to make.”
According to the coronavirus COVID-19 global cases dashboard at John Hopkins University, Japan currently has 1,086 confirmed cases, and 40 deaths, but questions have been raised on whether extensive testing has been done.
“It is hard to comprehensively explain [testing capacity in Japan as a whole] as it varies across the country. But not enough is being done around me [at least],” Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University said.
“Japan has not contained [the virus], or perhaps I should say we cannot even judge whether we have contained it without conducting [a sufficient number of] tests."
Japan had attempted to restart its B League behind closed doors recently, but announced a postponement to the season until 1 April, after concerns around the virus continued. “Rather than asking whether or not we should have spectators (in the arenas), we have to wonder if we should restart this sport, in which you have a lot of (physical) contact and drops (of saliva) and sweat,” Chiba Jets Funabashi head coach, Atsushi Ono said. “And we (the coaches) don’t dare to tell them to play regardless of the situation. So we would like (the league) to consider the feelings of the players.”
NBA veteran Jeff Ayres, who plays for the Shiga Lakestars, opted to leave due to a lack of confidence in the environment. "I decided not to practice or play due to concern regarding how the league, and my team specifically, was doing to keep players safe," Ayres told ESPN. "I felt we were putting ourselves at risk. It was a reckless environment."