JOHANNESBURG – SASCOC has welcomed the IOC’s decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.IOC President Thomas Bach and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, made the decision to reschedule the games to “a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021”.There were growing calls for the games to be postponed this week with Canada, Australia and the USA saying they would not participate should the games continue as normal.Speaking to EWN Sport, acting SASCOC CEO, Ravi Govender, said they support the decision.“Seeing that we as a nation have also just gone into lockdown and that would obviously have a tremendous amount of impact on our athletes, who are our primary concern, as well as affect their training programme, we welcome the postponement. It will certainly show that as the Olympic movement, we put priority in terms of our athletes first and foremost,” he said.Govender added that they will make sure they take the necessary precautions in the meantime.“We are working closely with the Department of Sports and Recreation and engaging with embassies. In doing all of that, our first and foremost priority is to maintain the protocols that have been set out by the various health authorities including our own state president in terms of observing social distancing and other hygienic behavior,” he said.There is a concern that there will be major congestion in the 2021 sporting calendar with a number of leagues and tournaments on hold and many fixtures having to be rearranged.
World Athletics has already stated that it was ready to move its world championships, scheduled for August 2021, in favour of the Olympics.The Swimming World Championships are also set to be held in Japan from 16 July to 1 August 1, 2021.Govender stated that they would follow recommendations made by the IOC with regard to qualification procedures and potential congestion.“We will wait for further details from the IOC and International Federations in terms of how we’re going to deal with possible congestion, what we are going to do in terms of who needs to still qualify and the qualifications that happened, so those details are still awaited, and we hope to have them shortly,” he said.