Adam Gemili has accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of hypocrisy over its plans to sanction athletes who take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter at this year's Games in Tokyo.

Last month, the IOC executive board approved recommendations in regard to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, relating to athlete expression at Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

Although it pledged to "increase opportunities for athletes' expression during the Olympic Games" and celebrate "Peace, Respect, Solidarity, Inclusion and Equality" through collective branding, it was deemed "not appropriate" for competitors to "demonstrate or express their views on the field of play".

As such, any actions such as taking a knee at a podium ceremony will be subject to sanctions, although it is unclear at this stage what the punishments might be.

British sprinter Gemili told The Guardian "all hell would break loose" if athletes were banned for protesting.

If he is able to improve upon his fourth-placed finish in the 200m at Rio 2016, the 27-year-old explained he would not be dissuaded from taking a stand and cited double standards over the celebrations of Black Power protests at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and the IOC's present position.

"For sure I would be happy to take a knee if I was successful at the Olympics and I had that opportunity," he said.

"I would definitely protest. The fact the IOC is telling athletes 'no, you can't do it' is only going to make people more angry. If the opportunity came, I wouldn't shy away from it.

"This is what I don’t understand: the IOC are so quick to use Tommie Smith, the picture of his fist raised, but they are saying 'actually, no one is allowed to do that'. It doesn't make sense.

"I don't think you can ban an athlete for protesting. And if they do, all hell would break loose and it could go south and sour very quickly. They will be very naive to even try to do that.

"The Olympics is not a place to be political, it's a place for sport and to bring the whole world together, but the whole BLM movement is more than political. It's about being a good human, and equal rights for everyone."

The IOC reported 70 per cent of over 3,500 athlete respondents to their survey were against demonstrations on the "field of play" or at official ceremonies, with that figure dropping fractionally to 67 per cent for podium ceremonies.

Nevertheless, Gemili feels the governing body's methodology was flawed when it came to accurately showing the strength of feeling from athletes of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

"I think the IOC knew exactly what it was doing," he added.

Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures are set to enter a state of emergency just three months before Japan's capital is due to host the rescheduled Olympic Games.

Restrictions will be imposed from April 25 through to May 11 in a bid to curb rising coronavirus infections in Japan.

Bars, restaurants and karaoke parlours serving alcohol will be asked to close, while sporting events are set to be held behind closed doors.

Additionally, department stores and cinemas will close, while people will be encouraged to work from home. Schools, however, will remain open.

Economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said: "We absolutely have to limit the movement of people, and we have to do it decisively.

"We need powerful, short and focused measures."

Kyoto and Hyogo are the other two areas to come under the new restrictions.

It marks the third time Japan will enter a state of emergency. The decision comes as the country's medical system struggles to contend with a rise in COVID-19 infections caused by new variants.

The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee has not swayed from its stance that the Games – postponed last year as a result of the pandemic – will go ahead despite a strong swell of public support for a cancellation.

Last week, Toshihiro Nikai – the secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party – said cancellation remains a possibility, although Olympics Minister Tamayo Maruyama said that was not being considered.

International spectators have already been banned from attending the Games, which are due to begin on July 23, while a decision over domestic spectators going to events is reportedly set to be delayed.

Cancelling the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics remains an option, according to a top official from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). 

The Games, which were postponed last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, are set to take place between July 23 and August 8, with the Paralympics following from August 24 until September 5.

The health crisis continues to cause issues for nations across the globe but the message from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has thus far been that the show will go on.

International fans are banned from attending, and social-distancing measures, track-and-trace systems and temperature checks will be enforced.

With experts in Japan warning the country has entered a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, the secretary general of the LDP, Toshihiro Nikai, said cancelling the Games remains a possibility. 

"If it seems impossible to go on with the games, they must be definitely cancelled," Nikai told TBS TV.

"If there is a surge in infections because of the Olympics, there will be no meaning to having the Olympics."

Asked if cancellation was still an option, he added: "Of course."

A recent poll conducted by Japanese news agency Kyodo News revealed that 39.2 per cent of respondents want the Games to be cancelled, with 32.8 per cent in favour of it being delayed again.

 

Olympics great Mark Spitz believes politically active athletes are unlikely to heed demands for them not to protest during Tokyo 2020.

United States swimming superstar Spitz won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Games to establish himself as an all-time legend of the pool.

He recalled the Black Power salute from American track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico Games four years earlier as a prime example of Olympians using their platform to take a powerful stance in front of the watching world.

On the podium in Mexico City, after Smith won gold in the 200 metres and Carlos took bronze, the American sprinters each stood with a black-gloved hand raised and head bowed, an immortal protest against racism in the United States.

Spitz acknowledged the determined efforts of current sporting superstars such as LeBron James and Lewis Hamilton to draw attention to similar matters of racial prejudice.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said last year that the Olympics "are not and must never be a platform to advance political or any other divisive ends".

Bach added: "Our political neutrality is undermined whenever organisations or individuals attempt to use the Olympic Games as a stage for their own agendas, as legitimate as they may be."

In an interview with Stats Perform, Spitz said of the IOC's intentions: "I know they have had some campaigns at a political level not to make it a platform for people to speak out against things that are obviously a concern to them, and they use when they stand on the podium and win a medal to voice their opinion.

"I am on the fence in how I feel about it. An example was Tommie Smith and John Carlos who held their hands up in the 1968 Olympic Games in track and field. And that still resonates to this day.

"And the issues they spoke loud and clear about are still happening here in America and worldwide. So I don't think people's rightful opportunity to speak out will be eradicated."

Speaking courtesy of Laureus, Spitz added: "I think there's a proper place and a proper time and in most people's opinion the proper place and time are when the most people in the world are listening to you.

"And certainly that provokes those sort of things to happen at the Olympics, or other events for that matter."

Formula One champion Hamilton and NBA superstar James have used their global fame as a means to call for equality in society and sport.

Spitz stressed he remained "down the middle of the line" on political protests in sport, but he added: "I think morally if they feel they need to speak out then they should. And there's a way to do that in a polite and politically correct and accurate way. I think those two gentlemen [Hamilton and James] have done so."

Spitz, now 71, no longer holds the record for the most gold medals in a single Games after fellow swimming great Michael Phelps won eight at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

He predicted organisers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics - set back a year by the COVID-19 pandemic - will go the extra mile to deliver a standout entertainment experience for the worldwide audience.

International spectators have been banned from travelling to watch the Games, in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

"I suspect and hope they will go off without a hitch, but in keeping with tradition I'm not sure how they'll do an opening ceremony with all those people, or an opening ceremony show," Spitz said.

"It is a big revenue generator for the television networks to have those part of the festivities. It's a shame if it's not done as we're accustomed to seeing, but I think it will be modified and we'll be happy with what the presentation will be I hope."

Only 100 days remain until the rearranged Tokyo Olympics begin, some 12 months after they were originally scheduled to take place in the Japanese capital.

The overriding question over the past year has simply been: how will this happen?

Uncertainty still lingers over the monumental logistical effort needed to reschedule an Olympics, one that did not take place as planned for the first time since World War II as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over a year since it was first confirmed the Games would be put back, the global health crisis is still wreaking havoc as countries battle COVID-19 with varying levels of success.

For the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government, a more pertinent question may be: how could the Games not go ahead?

Soon, more than 11,000 athletes plus their coaches, as well as throngs of media and officials from around 200 nations, will flock into a single city during a pandemic.

As the Games come into view and the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic cauldron draws closer, the message has been pretty clear – one way or another, the show will go on.

So, just where are we at and what do we still not fully know about how the Games will function?

HOW THE SITUATION IS VIEWED IN JAPAN

While there appears little chance of another immediate postponement, there has not been particularly mass support from the people of Japan.

A Times report in January citing an unnamed Japanese government source suggested the Games would be cancelled – suggestions that were labelled as "categorically untrue" by the IOC.

But a survey taken by the Kyodo News Agency in the same month found approximately 80 per cent of people wanted another postponement or cancellation. 

A more recent poll taken by consultancy Kekst CNC found 56 per cent of respondents in the country do not want the Olympics to take place.

Confidence in Japan's ability to host the Games will hardly have been improved by the Olympic torch relay being prevented from taking place on public roads in Osaka on April 13 and 14 due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

While a full lockdown has never been imposed in Japan, a second state of emergency in Tokyo was only lifted on March 22.

Daily new infection rates in Japan decreased to a little over 500 in early March, but rates have steadily been on the rise again, with over 3,695 reported on April 10. Over 9,000 people have died after having a confirmed case in the country.

There are also concerns about the speed of the vaccine rollout in Japan, with frontline medical workers having not started receiving jabs until February. It could be July by the time the wider population is offered a shot.

PLAYBOOKS, TESTING AND NO MANDATORY VACCINATIONS

Despite those reservations, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee have pressed ahead to come up with an extensive collaborative list of rules in a 'playbook'.

Athletes and officials, members of the press, and international federations are among the groups who will have to follow playbooks for the duration of the Games.

The guidance we have all become so familiar with for over a year is stressed: avoid physical contact, maintain distance, follow good hand hygiene, wear masks, and keep away from crowded spaces where possible.

Chanting and singing is discouraged, with the playbook stating athletes should be supported instead by clapping.

Additionally, an activity plan must be provided for the first 14 days when entering Japan – including details of planned activities, travel intentions, and accommodation details.

All those required to adhere to the rules of the playbook are permitted to visit only official Games venues and selected other locations, while going to bars, shops, restaurants or tourist locations is not allowed.

No mandatory period of quarantining will be required, unlike what was in place for the tennis Australian Open earlier this year, but anyone who provides a positive coronavirus test will have to isolate – which the playbook states may be at a government-approved isolation facility.

Athletes will not be required to have received a vaccine against COVID-19 to take part in the Games, although the IOC has actively encouraged participants to take the opportunity if possible.

The issue of whether vaccines should be mandatory remains a contentious one. Middle-distance athlete Genzebe Dibaba, a silver medallist for Ethiopia in the 1,500 metres at Rio 2016, recently told Stats Perform News she feels competitors should get a jab.

"Yes, I think it's safe and more comfortable to manage, to meet with the other athletes. [I think it's] better to take the vaccine," she said.

Swimming great Mark Spitz, a legend of the 1972 Games in Munich where he won seven golds, also believes Olympians should take a vaccine.

Speaking courtesy of Laureus, Spitz told Stats Perform: "Personally I've received the vaccine because of my age, I didn't jump in front of anyone in line. And there's nothing to fear from the vaccine.

"According to the doctors and the experts we're somewhere in excess of 90 per cent protected - that doesn't mean I don't observe social distancing, masking up and all the other things we've heard so much about and have been observing.

"I think the athletes will have to cope with these type of observances. I think the athletes should be vaccinated, not only for their own good but for anyone they come into contact with in their journey to get to Tokyo."

Athletes are to be tested every four days, but no decision has yet been taken on whether a positive result will see competitors prohibited from taking part in their events – the contention over potentially false positive tests remaining a sticking point.

At past Olympics, Games accommodation 'villages' have earned a reputation as party venues, with competitors clustered and able to blow off steam at the end of a brutal four-year training cycle.

But this year promises to be an altogether different experience, with athletes told to arrive five days before competing and leave no later than two days after their event finishes.

Temperature checks are required to be taken every day, and playbooks warn that such tests will also be required to enter any official Games venue – a temperature of more than 37.5 degrees would mean a competitor is not allowed to enter.

TRAINING DISRUPTION AND OVERSEAS FANS BANNED

Disruption to the Games has not just been a nightmare for organisers. Athletes too have had to rip up plans and training schedules, and find ways to adapt during unusual times.

Qualifiers and warm-up events have been cancelled or rescheduled, many official competitions have bitten the dust, and several months have been spent at home training, with practice facilities closing during lockdowns.

Amid the uncertainty has been the real fear of a full cancellation, and many have pondered whether the Games will lack integrity due to the varying levels of preparedness of athletes.

But many also believe athletes will just be desperate to compete on the biggest stage of all after over 12 months of turmoil.

"Everybody knows how special the Olympics are; for an athlete it cannot really get any better. You obviously want to do yourself proud and your family, but also you are representing your country," Fabian Cancellara, the cycling time trial gold medallist at both the 2008 and 2016 Olympics, told Stats Perform.

"Obviously with cycling I had many other big events, but the Olympics is huge and something you can never forget both when competing and the whole Olympic experience.

"You wait four, or in this case five years. Who knows how it is going to be in Tokyo really, nobody is quite sure but I'm sure they can still put a great Olympics on.

"The athletes will be even more hungry after waiting an extra year and whoever gets to experience what I did and become an Olympic champion, it's going to be amazing for them."

Spitz acknowledged the disruption, but he too hopes competitors will have had ample time to prepare.

"I can't speak on behalf on a lot of different sports and how their training habits have been affected. I know swimming, for example, it's been a bit of a concern since we can't get into pools here in America," he said.

"It has a profound effect on swimming obviously. Especially these large pools we need to practise in, 50-metre pools, it's not in somebody's back yard, and you need to be coached and assembled in a team.

"So, this was put on the sidelines for a number of months back in the winter time, but a lot of the athletes are on track right now. They have opened up these facilities and far enough in advance that come time for the Olympic Games we're going to see top-notch performances from swimmers around the world. How it's affected gymnastics or other sports I'm not quite sure but it definitely has affected them."

One thing that is certain is those competing are sure to do so in a very different atmosphere to past Olympics.

Last month, it was confirmed no overseas visitors will be allowed to attend the Games – a significant blow to an event that prides itself on providing an international flavour.

Approximately 900,000 to one million tickets had reportedly been sold across the Olympic and Paralympic Games to overseas spectators, all of which will need to be refunded.

Fears of a behind-closed-doors Games are unlikely to come to fruition, although a decision about a potential cap on capacity of venues is likely to be made in the near future.

TOO COSTLY TO CANCEL?

Of course, for all the messages of unity and triumphing amid adversity, there will be cynics asking whether this all boils down to one thing: money.

There is undoubtedly an element of truth that there is plenty to lose financially.

As of December 2020, it was reported the budget for the Olympics had risen to a whopping £11.5billion, an extra £2.1bn compared to the totals a year prior.

The additional costs are said to be mainly down to measures needed to combat the threat of COVID-19 and the renegotiating of contracts.

And there is pressure too from broadcasters, who contribute to around three quarters of the IOC's budget, who remain adamant the Games should go ahead.

So, yes, here we are with 100 days to go and barring a monumental change of heart, the show will indeed go on.

Genzebe Dibaba believes it would be a more comfortable experience at the Tokyo Games if athletes are vaccinated against coronavirus and is confident organisers will do all they can to protect competitors at the Olympics.

Wednesday marks 100 days until the Games are due to begin in the Japanese capital, a year later than planned after the original dates in 2020 were scuppered by the pandemic.

The health crisis continues to cause issues for nations across the globe but the message from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has thus far been that the show will go on.

While international fans are banned from attending, and social-distancing measures, track-and-trace systems and temperature checks will be enforced, a vaccination against COVID-19 will not be a pre-requisite to participate in Tokyo.

Middle and long-distance runner Dibaba, a silver medallist in the 1500 metres at Rio 2016 and the world record holder over that distance, thinks athletes should have a jab for the Games.

"Yes, I think it's safe and more comfortable to manage, to meet with the other athletes," Dibaba told Stats Perform News.

"[I think it's] better to take the vaccine."

As part of the solutions to try and prevent transmission of the virus at the Games, Tokyo 2020 and the IOC have come up with 'Playbooks' for athletes, officials and the media to follow – which includes having to complete an activity book outlining plans while in the city.

Regular testing will also be enforced, with athletes being checked every four days, and Dibaba acknowledged organisers are doing what they can to put on a safe Games.

"It's hard to feel safe because it's a virus and you can get it at any minute," she added.

"But since it's the Olympics, I know they will do everything they can to protect us."

Dibaba spoke about the difficulties athletes have faced in training for an Olympics facing so much uncertainty.

But the Ethiopian – a world champion in 2015 – is still focused on moving up a step on the podium in Tokyo, even if she feels a crack at breaking her own 1500m world record may have to wait a little while.

"For now I'm getting ready for the Olympics, not for the record," Dibaba said. 

"It's a race, since it's a record anyone can break it if they work hard. If they go for the record I will be there. 

"If not I'm just working for the Olympic Games, not for the record. After the Olympics, I promise you I will try one more time that I will go for the record."

Tokyo 2020 organisers have announced spectators will not be allowed to travel from overseas to watch the Olympic Games this year.

The measure has been taken as part of an effort to reduce the risks of COVID-19 spreading at the delayed Games.

The Games will run from July 23 to August 8, having been set back by a year due to the global health crisis.

Also affected will be the Paralympics, which runs from August 24 to September 5, with travelling spectators also barred from attending.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have been advised of Tokyo's decision and are said by Games chiefs to "respect and accept this conclusion".

In a statement issued on Twitter, Tokyo 2020 said: "Today, on March 20, we reported to the IOC and IPC that we would not accept overseas spectators to Japan in order to realise a safe and secure event.

"We will continue to do our utmost to make this summer's event a safe and secure event so that it will be a light of hope for people all over the world."

In a further statement, Tokyo 2020 organisers said tickets purchased by those planning to travel from abroad would be refunded.

They said the coronavirus situation within and beyond Japan "remains very challenging" and pointed to travel across borders being "severely restricted", meaning entry to Japan could not be guaranteed.

"In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games," said the Tokyo 2020 statement.

"This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has dismissed a report that the Tokyo Games will be cancelled as "categorically untrue."

Athletes from all over the world are due to head to the Japanese capital for a showpiece that is scheduled to be opened a year later than orignally planned on July 23.

The coronavirus pandemic prevented the Olympics from being staged last year and there have been growing concerns that it will not be possible for the Games to go ahead in 2021.

An unnamed senior Japanese government source told The Times: "No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it's too difficult. Personally, I don't think it's going to happen."

Yet Thomas Bach, the IOC president, this week told Kyodo News there is "no reason whatsoever" to believe the Games will be called off for a second time due to the COVID-19 crisis and said there is "no plan B" for the Games.

The Japanese government also firmly stated on Friday there is no truth in claims that it has concluded the Olympics will have to be cancelled.

A statement from the IOC said: "We refer you to the strong and clear statement that the Japanese Government made today, saying that the report is "categorically untrue".

The statement from the Japanese government said: "Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus. This is categorically untrue.

"At an IOC Executive Board meeting in July last year, it was agreed that the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would be held on July 23 this year, and the programme and venues for the Games were rescheduled accordingly.

"All parties involved are working together to prepare for a successful Games this summer.

"We will be implementing all possible countermeasures against COVID-19 and will continue to work closely with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in our preparations for holding a safe and secure Games this summer."

Olympic chiefs have been joined by the Japanese government in denying a report that the Tokyo Games is poised to be called off for a second time.

The delayed Tokyo 2020 event is due to officially open on July 23 and close on August 8, having been put back by a year because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

However, with the pandemic still causing devastation in countries across the globe, there have been concerns that staging an Olympics in 2021 may be impractical.

British newspaper The Times quoted an unnamed senior Japanese government source as saying: "No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult. Personally, I don't think it's going to happen."

That is a perspective that is hotly disputed, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach telling Kyodo News: "We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

"This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful."

Japan has strict border controls in place in an attempt to prevent travellers spreading coronavirus and bringing new strands of the virus into the country.

The IOC executive board is due to meet on January 27, when it is set to receive updates from the Tokyo organising committee.

A recent poll of Japanese public, conducted by broadcaster NHK, found there was widespread opposition to the Olympics going ahead this year.

The Times said Tokyo would look to host the 2032 Olympic Games.

Yet Australian John Coates, an IOC vice-president and chair of the Tokyo Coordination Commission, says the plan remains for the Games to be held in its current slot.

"There has been no discussion on cancellation," Mr Coates told The Ticket, an ABC radio show.

"At the end of the day, politicians do have to take into account the feelings of those inside their party and the general public.

"But this is not the message we are getting from Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga or the president of the Tokyo Organising Committee Yoshiro Mori, himself a former Prime Minister."

In Japan, deputy chief cabinet secretary Manabu Sakai told media that the prospect of a Games cancellation was not under consideration.

He said: "There is no such fact. I would like to deny it. The government is working as one to prepare for the success of the event this summer."

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it is continuing to plan for the Olympic Games, despite reports the rescheduled showpiece event in Tokyo could be cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 forced the 2020 Games to be postponed, with the Olympics now due to held in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8 this year.

But with coronavirus continuing to wreak havoc globally, there are reports claiming Japan has privately concluded the Olympic Games will have to be called off.

The AOC responded to the reports in a statement on Friday, which read: "Both Japanese prime minister Suga and IOC president Bach have this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games going ahead in July this year. 

"The AOC is continuing its planning to ensuring the Australian Olympic Team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safe and COVID-free.

"The AOC, Federal Government, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council are continuing to progress the candidature for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032 – and that process continues."

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach also insisted the Games will take place this year, despite surging COVID-19 cases in Tokyo.

Amid growing doubts, Bach told Kyodo News on Thursday: "We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

"This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful."

"You may not like it but sacrifices will be needed. This is why I'm saying, safety first, and no taboo in the discussion to ensure safety," added Bach after hinting at the possibility of reduced spectators.

Bach said: First of all, let me be clear that you cannot compare March 2021 with March 2020 because there is such great progress in science, medicine, vaccination and [virus] tests.

"All this was not available in March last year. Nobody knew yet how really to deal with the pandemic, and now we know much more."

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound is uncertain whether the Tokyo Games will be able to go ahead.

After the Olympics were postponed in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, they have been rescheduled for this year, with events due to run in Japan's capital from July 23 to August 8.

However, COVID-19 has continued to surge globally with new variants of the virus forcing multiple countries back into lockdown situations.

The outcome of the debate about whether athletes are given priority access to vaccinations, which have just begun to be rolled out in major nations, could prove decisive.

"I can't be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus," Pound said, per BBC Sport, about whether the Games would go ahead.

The comments from Pound came as Japan declared a one-month state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding regions.

"The situation has become increasingly troubling nationwide and we have a strong sense of crisis," said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who had recently vowed to hold a "safe and secure" Olympics.

Pound, who is the longest-serving member of the committee, added the vaccine debate might be different in each competing nation.

He said to Sky News: "It is a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying they [athletes] are jumping the queue [for a vaccine].

"But I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead.

"In Canada, where we might have 300 or 400 athletes, to take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature, character and level – I don't think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that.

"Athletes are important role models, and by taking the vaccine they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration for the wellbeing of others in their communities."

Olympic athletes should be among those prioritised for a coronavirus vaccine so that the Tokyo Games can go ahead, according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound. 

The rescheduled Games are set to get under way on July 23, a whole calendar year after the original starting date, despite concerns over rising COVID-19 cases in host country Japan.  

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will decide on Thursday whether to implement a new state of emergency in Tokyo amid growing calls to take action, which could again put the Olympics in jeopardy. 

IOC chief Pound, the organisation's longest-serving member, believes the best way of ensuring it goes ahead is to vaccinate all athletes beforehand.

"In Canada where we might have 300 or 400 athletes - to take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature, character and level - I don't think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that," Pound told Sky News. 

"It's a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying they are jumping the queue but I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead." 

Costs for the Olympics have already increased by $2.8billion (£2.1bn) due to measures being put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.

 

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