The rescheduled Tokyo Games cannot go ahead if the present global health situation persists, the chairman of the Olympics organising committee has admitted.

Friday was supposed to be the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics, but the coronavirus pandemic saw the Games postponed until 2021.

Organising chief Yoshiro Mori was asked by national broadcaster NHK if the Olympics would be able to go ahead if things were unchanged.

"If the current situation continues, we couldn't," he said, before adding that he believes such a scenario is hypothetical and the outlook will improve.

"I can't imagine a situation like this will continue for another year."

Mori stated that finding a vaccine is likely to be crucial for the Olympics to take place in 2021.

"Whether the Olympics can be done or not is about whether humanity can beat the coronavirus. Specifically, the first point will be that a vaccine or drug has been developed," Mori added.

International Olympics Committee chief Thomas Bach recently suggested the Olympics may go ahead with reduced spectator numbers.

Mori suggested Bach was referring to a worst-case scenario and, while acknowledging different scenarios may have to be looked at if the pandemic continues as it is now, he is against a behind-closed-doors Olympics.

"We shouldn't make spectators go through hard times. Sporting events are all about the whole country empathising," Mori told Kyodo News.

The Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled if the coronavirus makes hosting the event in its revised 2021 date unsafe.

That is the stark warning from International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, who sees no viable option to further delay the Games.

Local organisers have admitted there is no scope to push the Olympics – originally scheduled to begin in July this year – back to 2022.

And Bach acknowledged the fact the Games would either have to be staged next year, or not at all.

"Quite frankly, I have some understanding for this, because you can't forever employ 3,000 or 5,000 people in an Organising Committee," he told the BBC.

"You can't every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You can't have the athletes being in uncertainty."

Key stakeholders are having to consider contingency plans for a variety of scenarios should the Tokyo Olympics go ahead, but the IOC is resistant to the idea of them taking place behind closed doors.

"This is not what we want," Bach said. "Because the Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the Games so unique that they're in an Olympic Stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together.

"But when it then would come to the decision... I would ask you to give me some more time for consultation with the athletes, with the World Health Organisation, with the Japanese partners."

 

 

 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) anticipates incurring costs of up to $800million over the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games.

It was confirmed in March the Games would be put back to July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC executive board on Thursday approved a financial plan to deal with the crisis months before the Olympics were due to start.

A mammoth sum of up to $650m will be set aside for the IOC to cover the cost of organising the rescheduled Games.

An aid package of up to $150m for the Olympic movement - including international federations, national Olympic committees and IOC-recognised organisations - has also been approved.

The IOC stated it is "undergoing a deep analysis process to evaluate and assess the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on all of its operations".

IOC president Thomas Bach said: "The Olympic movement is facing an unprecedented challenge.

"The IOC has to organise postponed Olympic Games for the first time ever, and has to help its stakeholders come through this global crisis.

"This new situation will need all our solidarity, creativity, determination and flexibility. We shall all need to make sacrifices and compromises. Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.

"This situation requires every one of us to do our part, and this applies to all of us, including the IOC. With today's financial plans, we are addressing these needs."

World Athletics has launched a $500,000 fund alongside the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) to help athletes affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

The world of sport has been decimated by the outbreak of COVID-19, which has seen the Olympic Games in Tokyo postponed by a year until 2021.

That had a knock-on effect with the World Athletics Championships, originally scheduled for 2021 in Oregon, pushed back by 12 months, while the 2020 European Championships have been cancelled.

A World Athletics statement said the fund will be used to help athletes who have lost the majority of their income from the suspension of international competition.

Resources from the 2020 and 2021 budgets of the IAF, of which Prince Albert II of Monaco is honorary president, will be allocated to help athletes. 

World Athletics president and IAF chair Sebastian Coe will front "an expert multi-regional working group to assess the applications for assistance, which will be submitted through World Athletics' six Area Associations".

Olympic champion and 1500 metres world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj and Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi are among the members of the working group, which will convene in the coming week for talks over how to award and distribute grants to individual athletes and to assess means of raising additional monies for the fund.

"I would especially like to thank Hicham for bringing this idea to us, and Prince Albert for his strong support of this project," Coe said. 

"I am in constant contact with athletes around the world and I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months. 

"Our professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income and we're mindful that our competition season, on both the track and road, is being severely impacted by the pandemic. 

"We are hopeful that we will be able to stage at least some competition later this year, but in the meantime we will also endeavour, through this fund and additional monies we intend to seek through the friends of our sport, to help as many athletes as possible."

El Guerrouj added: "The pandemic is causing economic pain to people from all parts of society, including athletes, and this is a time when we must come together as a global community to help each other. 

"I am delighted that Seb and World Athletics reacted so positively to my suggestion that we create a fund for athletes, and have made it happen with the support of the International Athletics Foundation. 

"The suspension of competition has had a huge impact on many professional athletes because they can't earn prize money so I'm really pleased that we have found a way to assist them."

Prince Albert II said he hopes the initiative can help athletes continue preparations for next year's Games.

"I created more than 35 years ago the International Athletics Foundation with the late Primo Nebiolo to encourage and promote athletics and grant financial assistance to athletics federations and the most deserving athletes," he said. 

"Since its inception the Foundation has distributed for these purposes more than $30million. I am delighted that we can put our resources behind this initiative so we can make a difference to the lives of athletes who are suffering financially at this time. 

"We hope that this support will help those athletes preparing for international competition, including next year's Olympic Games, to sustain their training, support their families and that this will relieve them of some stress in these uncertain times."

The Olympic Games in Tokyo will be scrapped rather than postponed again if they cannot be held in 2021, according to event president Yoshiro Mori.

The Games were pushed back from July to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic following weeks of uncertainty as the IOC considered the best course of action.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise globally despite some of the hardest-hit countries having had some success in reducing the rate of transmission and the number of attributable deaths.

However, Tokyo 2020 president Mori says there is no prospect of the Games being delayed further if staging them in 2021 is unfeasible.

"No. In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped," Mori told Japanese publication Nikkan Sports.

The comments came after Yoshitake Yokokura, the president of the Japan Medical Association (JMA), suggested it would be difficult for the Games to go ahead if a vaccine against COVID-19 has not become widely available.

"Unless an effective vaccine is developed I think it will be difficult to hold the Olympics next year," Yokokura told reporters.

"I'm not saying at this point that they shouldn't be held. The outbreak is not only confined to Japan. It's a worldwide issue."

The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has passed three million, with just over 13,600 of those in Japan.

Almost 212,000 people to test positive for the virus have died.

Thomas Bach has rejected claims the IOC was too slow in postponing the Tokyo Olympics and hit out at "conspiracy theories" regarding the decision.

It was confirmed last month the 2020 Games, originally scheduled to begin on July 24, would be put back by a year due to ongoing concerns over athletes' health and ability to train amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC came in for criticism for having originally insisted the Games would go ahead as planned before pressure arrived from several federations, with Canada and Australia among the nations to say they would not have sent athletes if the Olympics went ahead on the planned dates this year.

IOC president Bach said the decision to postpone required unilateral support, while insisting the intention was never to cancel the Games completely.

Speaking to Welt Am Sonntag, Bach said: "In such emotional situations, as a responsible person, you cannot make decisions based on gut instinct.

"We really cannot be accused of hesitation or lack of advice and transparency.

"In order to counter conspiracy theories, it must be said clearly that the IOC was insured against a cancellation, but not insured in the case of a postponement.

"For a postponement, however, the approval of the organising committee, which must be willing to work a year longer, is required, and the Japanese government must be willing to continue to support the preparations.

"We weren't dealing with the postponement of a football match or city marathon here. We were dealing with 11,000 athletes from all over the world; 50 world championships in 33 different sports, all in the same place and within the space of 16 days as well as partners in the worlds of sport, business and politics, all of whom had to be brought on board.

"Two days later, I reached agreement with the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, that the Games should be rescheduled.

"I would ask people to remember that, at that point, there were still discussions going on about an April date for the Bundesliga and Champions League to start up again. Wimbledon was still in the calendar. Even now, the Tour de France has still not been cancelled."

Bach added he did not know what the cost of postponing the Games would be but acknowledged it would run into "several hundred million dollars".

"That is impossible to say for now. We agreed with the prime minister that Japan will continue to cover the costs it would have done under the terms of the existing agreement for 2020, and the IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the costs," he said.

"For us, the IOC, it is already clear that we shall be faced with several hundred million dollars of additional costs."

There have been suggestions that uncertainty over the COVID-19 crisis could lead to another postponement, a scenario Bach would not be drawn on.

"The top priority, of course, remains the health of the athletes and everyone involved in the Games and the containment of the virus," Bach said.

"We will use this as a basis for all future decisions."

World Athletics has suspended the qualification period for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games until December 1.

The coronavirus pandemic last month forced the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to postpone the Games until July 23, 2021.

In line with that decision, World Athletics has decided – in consultation with its Athletes' Commission, area presidents and Council – to alter the qualification period, meaning any results between April 6 and November 30 will not count towards Tokyo 2020 entry standards or world rankings.

Although qualification status cannot be achieved or boosted in this time, results shall continue to be recorded for statistical purposes, and athletes who had already met entry standards before April 6 will remain qualified.

Should the global situation improve, qualification will resume on December 1 and run through to new deadlines, which are no later than June 29, 2021.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said: "I am grateful for the detailed work and feedback from our Athletes' Commission and Council, who believe suspending Olympic qualification during this period gives more certainty for athlete planning and preparation, and is the best way to address fairness in what is expected to be the uneven delivery of competition opportunities across the globe for athletes given the challenges of international travel and government border restrictions."

The organisation also confirmed as of Tuesday, 50 per cent of their "HQ staff" have been furloughed.

The government of Monaco will contribute 70 per cent of the wages of those staff in question, with World Athletics topping up the rest to ensure employees are paid their salary in full.

Coe added: "This decision, made possible by the Monaco government, means we will focus only on business-critical activities for the short-term, which will help us manage our cashflow effectively and protect jobs in the long-term.

"All World Athletics HQ staff will remain on their full salaries during this period with the organisation topping up the Monaco government's contribution.

"We have taken care to ensure the support and services we provide to our member federations, areas, partners, stakeholders, athletes and the wider athletics community remain in place with a reduced team."

Grenadian Olympic gold medallist Kirani James admits to being uneasy over the uncertainly surrounding the rest of the track and field season but does not believe he will be severely impacted by the cancellation of the Olympic Games this year.

After months of deliberation and some amount of hesitance, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the Games would be pushed forward by a year, as the world struggles to come to grips with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

For thousands of athletes around the world, the news would come as a hammer blow with months of preparation upended and a year added to a chance to shine at athletics signature events.  For some, already struggling to make a final appearance due to aging, aching limbs it was even a tougher pill to swallow.  The 27-year-old James, who is already a World and Olympic champions, does not fall into that category. 

“I don’t think so (Impacts chance of medaling at next Olympics), at least not right now. It is what it is,” the former University of Alabama sprinter told TideSports.

“It’s not the fault of anything we can control. We just take it as what it is and try our best to prepare. That’s the decision they came to and we have to accept it. We have to prepare as best as we can.”

Like the majority, he believes it was a necessary evil.   

“The way I see it is, for them to postpone it, they’re taking this pandemic very seriously and I’m sure if there was a way where they could keep it for this year, they would have.  Obviously, they exhausted all their options. It is what it is. At the end of the day, safety and health trumps the Olympics every time,” he added.

James won the 400m gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London, after claiming gold at the World Championships one year prior.  The sprinter then went on to claim silver behind world-record breaker Wayde van Niekerk at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.  James saw his career severely hampered after being diagnosed with Graves' disease.  He has since recovered and was confident things were progressing well for Tokyo before the delays.

“Training was good. It was very consistent, the workouts and everything.  Really it was just gearing up for the start of the season in April. Everything was on track.”

World Athletics is working with organisers for the 2021 World Championships to find new dates after showing its support for the rescheduling of the Olympic Games.

It was confirmed on Monday the Tokyo Olympics will take place between July 23 and August 8, 2021, with the Games – which were due to start on July 24 of this year – having been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Discussions are now ongoing to find an alternative gap in the calendar for the Worlds in Oregon, which are scheduled to be held between August 6 and 15, 2021, as it stands.

World Athletics are also liaising with the relevant parties of the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, both of which are slated for 2022.

A World Athletics statement read: "We support the new 2021 dates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games announced today by the Japanese organisers and the IOC. 

"This gives our athletes the time they need to get back into training and competition. 

"Everyone needs to be flexible and compromise and to that end we are now working with the organisers of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon on new dates in 2022 for our World Athletics Championships.  

"We are also in discussions with the Commonwealth Games Federation and the European Championships.  

"We would like to thank our Oregon 21 Organising Committee, their stakeholders and our partners for their collaboration and willingness to explore all options."

The Tokyo Games have been rescheduled to take place between July 23 and August 8, 2021, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) has confirmed.

Last week, the Olympics – which were due to start on July 24 – were postponed due to the global spread of coronavirus.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee later clarified the Games would be moved "to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021".

The IOC has now ratified the new dates, while announcing the Paralympics will take place from August 24 to September 5.

In a conference call on Monday, IOC president Thomas Bach said: "I want to thank the International Federations for their unanimous support and the Continental Associations of National Olympic Committees for the great partnership and their support in the consultation process over the last few days.

"I would also like to thank the IOC Athletes' Commission, with whom we have been in constant contact. With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge.

"Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel."

An IOC statement said the decision was based on three main considerations; to protect the health of athletes and support the containment of COVID-19, to safeguard the interests of athletes and of Olympic sport, and the global international sports calendar.

It added the new dates provide health authorities ample time to deal with an ever-changing landscape, while sufficient time will be given to finish qualification processes where necessary.

The IOC said heat mitigation factors as planned for 2020 will also still be implemented.

The President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Mori Yoshiro, said: "I proposed that the Games should be hosted between July and August 2021, and I really appreciate that President Bach, having discussed this proposal with the various international sports federations and other related organisations, kindly accepted my proposal.

"A certain amount of time is required for the selection and qualification of athletes and for their training and preparation, and the consensus was that staging the rescheduled Games during the summer vacation in Japan would be preferable.

"In terms of transport, arranging volunteers and the provision of tickets for those in Japan and overseas, as well as allowing for the COVID-19 situation, we think that it would be better to reschedule the Games to one year later than planned, in the summer of 2021.

"Notwithstanding the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the first time in history, and various other issues that have already been highlighted, the event schedule is the cornerstone of future preparations, and I am convinced that taking this decision promptly will help speed up future preparations."

The rescheduling marks the culmination of a frantic period.

A little over two weeks ago, Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe and the IOC both insisted there was no need to postpone the Games.

However, the worsening situation of the global spread of COVID-19 soon made such proclamations look extremely premature.

There have been 737,567 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally, with 34,998 people having died - as per World Health Organisation figures on Monday.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says track and field must not be afraid to "think bigger" after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed the Tokyo Olympics – which had been due to start in July – has been postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing crisis.

World Athletics has welcomed the decision, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having initially been reluctant to postpone the showpiece event.

It appears inevitable the World Athletics Championship, due to be held in Oregon in August 2021, will be nudged back a year to 2022 as a result.

Though disappointed at the 2020 schedule being hugely affected, Coe suggested there is now an opportunity to reinvigorate athletics.

"When we get through this, and we will, we will be braver and more innovative," Coe wrote in an open letter on Friday.

"We will be more collaborative and resilient. We will be stronger and more tolerant. We will be more global, not less.

"In sport we have a unique opportunity not to tiptoe around things and tweak at the edges. We have the chance to think bigger, to rip up the blueprints and banish the 'that's the way we've always done it' mentality."

Coe added: "The situation the world finds itself in today is a huge wake-up call for all of us – as human beings, as businesses and as sport. We should capitalise on this and work out new ways of delivering events, create and plan new events that embrace the many as well as the few.

"We can use this time to innovate and extend our sport across the year. Rather than just focusing on one-day meetings and one-day road races at one end of the spectrum and 10-day extravaganzas at the other end, we should look at weekend festivals of running, jumping and throwing that take advantage of the southern and northern hemisphere seasons.

"We should work with governments to re-establish sport in schools, rebuild club structures, incentivise people to exercise and get fit. This should and could be the new normal. We don't have to do things the same way.

"The priority for all of us right now is to contain the pandemic, stay healthy and stay home. But where we can continue to drive our sport forward, we must."

Coe also revealed his organisation will do all it can to ensure the outdoor season of one-day meetings goes ahead as soon as it is safe, with Diamond League events having been postponed until at least June.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said there is no evidence to suggest members of Turkey's team contracted coronavirus during the Boxing Road to Tokyo event in London.

Just three days of action were possible at the Copper Box Arena before the competition was brought to a premature halt on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Turkish Boxing Federation accused the IOC Boxing Task Force of being irresponsible for allowing the European qualifier to go ahead in the circumstances, with reports saying two of their fighters and a coach have tested positive.

While expressing sympathy for those who have been taken ill, the task force feels there is nothing to suggest they were infected during the competition.

An IOC Boxing Task Force statement said: "Yesterday, the IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF) received news reports regarding participants of the Boxing Road to Tokyo European qualifier held in London from 14 to 16 March 2020, who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 following a return to their country.

"Most importantly, the BTF wants to express its sympathy for the affected athletes and officials and wishes them a very speedy and full recovery, and the BTF is in close contact with their respective National Olympic Committees. 

"Some news reports appeared to draw a connection between the affected participants and the Boxing Road to Tokyo European qualifier held in London. The London event was suspended 10 days ago, on 16 March 2020, and the BTF is not aware of any link between the competition and the infection.

"Many participants were in independently organised training camps in Italy, Great Britain and in their home countries before the competition started on 14 March 2020 and have returned home a while ago so it is not possible to know the source of infection.

"The BTF notes, that at the time of the European qualifier in London there were many sports and other events going on in Great Britain because there were no governmental restrictions or advice on public events in place.

"Nevertheless, in cooperation between the BTF and the Local Organising Committee, precautionary measures before, during and in the follow-up phase of the event were implemented and the event was suspended when the COVID-19 situation developed further.

"Safeguarding the well-being of the athletes, officials and all other participants has always been a top priority for the BTF."

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach described rescheduling the Tokyo Olympics as "like a huge jigsaw puzzle", adding that all options are being considered when it comes to a new start date.

It was confirmed on Monday that the global spread of coronavirus would result in the Games - which had been due to start on July 24 - being postponed.

A statement issued by the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee stated the Olympics would be "rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021".

On Tuesday Bach explained a special taskforce had been formed to work alongside the international federations and identify the most suitable date for the Games to now take place.

"The agreement is that we want to organise these Olympic Games at the latest in summer 2021," Bach told reporters on a conference call.

"That means that this task force can consider the broader picture.

"This is not restricted just to the summer months, all the options are on the table before or including the summer of 2021."

Bach added: "We of course also have to take into account the sport calendar around the Olympic Games and many other issues.

"We should come to a solution as soon as possible, but first priority should be the quality of this decision; to really be able to take the input of all the stakeholders into account – the NOCs [national Olympic committees], athletes, partners, and the organising committee is key also in this."

The Games in Tokyo will be the first not to go ahead on time since the Second World War, with Bach acknowledging the new team is in unfamiliar waters.

"This is like a huge jigsaw puzzle and every piece has to fit," Bach explained.

"You take out one piece, the whole puzzle is destroyed.

"Everything has to come together and everything is important. This is why I really do not envy the members of this taskforce in their work."

World Athletics has welcomed the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will expedite its review of the qualification system for the Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday confirmed the event, which was due to start on July 24, will be put back until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

IOC president Thomas Bach last weekend put a four-week timeframe on making a decision over whether the Games would go ahead as scheduled, despite being under huge pressure to announce a postponement.

World Athletics says it was important athletes know where they stand and will notify them of any changes to the qualifying process as soon as possible.

"World Athletics welcomes the decision of the IOC and the Japanese Government to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to 2021," the global governing body said in a statement.

"It is what athletes want and we believe this decision will give all athletes, technical officials and volunteers some respite and certainty in these unprecedented and uncertain times.

"Athletics will continue to do whatever we can to preserve and create an outdoor season of one-day meetings in 2020, starting and ending later than usual, so athletes, when they are able and it is safe to, will have access to competitions in every region.

"This will help them benchmark their performances and adjust their training accordingly for an Olympic Games in 2021.

"In light of this announcement, we will also expedite our current review of the Olympic qualification system, in cooperation with the IOC, and release any changes to the process as soon as possible so athletes know where they stand.

"World Athletics stands ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date for the Olympic Games in 2021 and has already been in discussion with the Organising Committee of the World Athletics Championships Oregon 21 regarding the possibility of moving the dates of this highly popular worldwide event.

"They have reassured us that they will work with all of their partners and stakeholders to ensure that Oregon is able to host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates, including dates in 2022."

Max Whitlock plans to continue working towards competing in Tokyo this year but admits the prospect of the Olympics being postponed is "gutting".

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Sunday they have set a four-week deadline to make a decision on the staging of the 2020 Games, which are due to get under way on July 24.

Both USA Track and Field and USA Swimming have called for a move to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak, while Canada have ruled out sending athletes to the Olympic or Paralympic Games if they go ahead as planned.

Despite the uncertainty, British gymnast Whitlock - who won two gold medals in Rio four years ago - will remain on schedule with his training until told otherwise.

"I'm trying to stay positive but it is gutting," Whitlock told the Standard. "I was training hard for the upcoming competitions but we are being told that the Olympics is still going ahead.

"That's a great thing for me; I'm still motivated and it's important to keep that mindset because that’s what keeps me going."

He added: “I'm not even thinking about a situation where the Olympics doesn’t go ahead because as soon as you do that, that’s where motivation will dip.

“I won't go away from that mindset until I'm told differently.

"I think that's where a lot of athletes are struggling, feeling like they need to know now. But these are big decisions that need to be made and we need to be patient."

Many pre-Olympic events have already been cancelled due to COVID-19, forcing Whitlock to make alternative arrangements as he aims to stay sharp.

"It's not just the training that prepares you for an Olympic Games, it’s the competitions that you have," the 27-year-old explained. "I need to prepare as close to that plan as possible.

"I'll be going on social media live with a routine so that I'm put under pressure. People will be watching and I want to do a good job.

"I know it's not me competing in an arena, but it's the closest I can get."

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