Olympics still on…for now

With major sporting events shutting down worldwide, one could not help but wonder about the status of the biggest of them all – the Olympics.

Well, for now, the grandest sporting event on the calendar for 2020 is still on – set for July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan. With the games still more than four months away, the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG), along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), are hopeful that the global pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) would be in remission and a state of normalcy would be returned. They are watching the developments closely.

TOCOG is the local organization responsible for overseeing the planning and development of the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In a recent communication, James Macleod, the director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC (National Olympic Committee) Relations, said what would be greatly felt during this time is the impact on Olympic qualifying events for the rapidly approaching Summer Olympics. In conjunction with international federations, he said that the IOC has been working assiduously to alter qualifying standards, the qualifying system and create avenues in order for the totality of the Olympic Games to be realized.

“We recognize that there have been several changes to the Olympic qualifying events around the world due to the COVID-19 situation and the subsequent travel disruption, which may have impacted athletes’ qualification plans,” he said. “From the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the IOC has been working closely with international federations to ensure that the qualification of athletes for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 happens on the field of play wherever possible. In particular, we are working to ensure fair access for all athletes and teams to remaining qualifying events by addressing any challenges with international federations and NOCs as soon as they are identified on a case-by-case manner. In this respect we are heartened by the support received from NOCs hosting events in finding solutions with their national governments and public health authorities to enable the maximum participation of athletes in these events.”

The IOC has recently approved numerous requests from the international federations for any necessary changes to dates and locations of events, with the goal of ensuring the events take place wherever possible. Additionally, NOCS are asked to contact IOC Head of NOC Games Services Toshio Tsurunaga at should any question or concerns arise relating to the participation of athletes in specific qualifying events.

“Due to the volume of changes, we highly recommend that national federations remain in close contact with their relevant international federations to receive regular updates on any possible changes going forward,” said Macleod. “Only where required, the IOC executive board approved the concept of allowing for changes to the existing Tokyo 2020 qualification systems themselves. These would include the extension of the qualification period or the re-assignment of quota allocations to upcoming events. The IOC is therefore confident that with the support of the international federations and NOCs, we are able to adapt as necessary to the constantly evolving impact of COVID-19 and find credible solutions to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 qualification process in each sport.”

Meanwhile, in the wake of a Bahamian resident testing positive for the coronavirus, the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC), is requesting a suspension on all sporting activities in the country and encourages all federations, associations, sporting clubs, athletes and sports officials to adhere to the practices presented by the Ministry of Health, and to listen to credible news sources for further updates.

BOC President Romell “Fish” Knowles earlier said they will await further updates from the IOC and will also consult the Ministry of Health regarding the participation of Team Bahamas in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. He further said that the safety of the Bahamian athletes/contingent will not be compromised.

So far, a total of six Bahamian athletes have qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games – all in track and field. Samson Colebrooke has qualified in the men’s 100 meters (m), World Champion Steven Gardiner in the men’s 400m, Jamal Wilson in the men’s high jump, Tynia Gaither in the women’s 100 and 200m, Olympic Champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the women’s 200 and 400m, and Pedrya Seymour in the women’s 100m hurdles.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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