Coronavirus: Tokyo Olympic Games plans ‘irresponsible’, says IOC member

International Olympic Committee member Hayley Wickenheiser says that plans for the Tokyo Games to go ahead are “insensitive and irresponsible”.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Olympic minister said the nation is still planning for a “complete” staging of the Games, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics,” said Wickenheiser.

“We don’t know what’s happening in the next 24 hours, let alone the next three months.”

Wickenheiser was part of the Canada team that won four successive ice hockey golds at the Winter Olympics.

Writing on Twitter, she added: “From an athlete perspective, I can only imagine and try to empathise with the anxiety and heartbreak athletes are feeling right now.

“Athletes can’t train, attendees can’t travel plan. Sponsors and marketers can’t market with any degree of sensitivity.

“I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity.”

On Saturday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed the Games would still go ahead and on Tuesday that was followed by Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto saying: “We will do our utmost to prepare [to hold the Olympics] as scheduled so that the International Olympic Committee will be convinced we are capable of hosting the Games.”

She added that a “complete” Olympics meant that the Games would start on time and with spectators in attendance.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it does not plan any “drastic” decisions and remains fully committed the Games.

However, Spain’s Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco has said he would prefer the Games to be postponed in order to give athletes the opportunity to prepare fully.

“The news that we get every day is uncomfortable for all countries in the world, but for us the most important thing is that our sportspeople cannot train and to celebrate the Games as planned would result in unequal conditions,” he said.

“We want the Olympics to take place, but with security. We’re an important country in the world and four months before the games, our athletes can’t arrive in equal conditions.”