The IOC has confirmed that it continues to plan for the Olympic Games to take place in Tokyo in July this year, and that the qualification process for sports will be restructured over the coming weeks to reflect the changing environment due to Covid-19 pandemic. The IOC Statement can be found HERE. The Olympic Federation of Ireland is working closely with its partners at the Sport Ireland Institute and the Science & Medical Commission to provide best advice to athletes in relation to training during this period. In this regard the HSE advice in relation to social distancing and risk mitigation is being followed.
Uncertainty around the qualification system has been growing for athletes globally, in light of the cancellation of most events on the calendar. The International Federations will restructure this system and aim to announce the new qualification process by early April. The sports bodies are unanimously committed to ensuring the fairest system in a difficult and changing environment is presented in April.
The IOC added that this is an unprecedented situation for the whole world, and that its thoughts are with all those affected by this crisis. At this point, following consultations with athlete representatives, world governing bodies for sport and national Olympic committees, they have reiterated that with four months to go to the games, this is not the time for drastic decisions; and that any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.
The IOC Executive Board has set out principles establishing how they intend to respond to the rapidly moving Covid 19 pandemic based on the safety of athletes and WHO medical advice. These principles are 1) to protect the health of everyone involved and to support the containment of the virus and 2) to safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport. The IOC also reiterated that its decisions during this time will not be determined by financial interests, because thanks to its risk management policies and insurance it will in any case be able to continue its operations and accomplish its mission to organise the Olympic Games.
The main focus at present for the IOC is to address uncertainty around athlete qualification in cooperation with the International Sports Federations which run Olympic qualification systems for each sport. Besides confirming that all qualification quota places gained by athletes to date (57%) will stand, they have also committed to working with the international federations to put in place revised qualification systems in a coordinated manner. These will consider the severe restrictions facing athletes at present, specifically in relation to qualification events, travel and training to devise systems for the fairest possible allocation of the remaining slots. The IOC has committed to providing this information in cooperation with the International Federations by early April.
This information was confirmed to the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) and Athletes’ Commission representatives in two separate teleconference calls. The OFI will now work with its partners, Sport Ireland, National Performance Directors, National Governing Bodies, and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and sponsors to support, as best possible in the current circumstances, the athletes as they continue to work towards qualification.