Coronavirus: Japan aiming for 'complete' Olympics with fans in attendance

By Sports Desk March 17, 2020

Japan are planning for a "complete" Olympics in front of spectators in July, according to the country's Olympic minister.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe stated on Saturday that the plan remains to stage the Games as intended in July, despite some calls for a postponement, including from United States president Donald Trump.

The International Olympic Commitee (IOC) is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the Olympics and the qualifying events that have had schedules badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a news conference, Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto echoed Abe's confidence that the Tokyo Games would be going ahead.

When asked whether the intention is to stage a "complete" Olympics, with fans present and abiding by the schedule, she replied: "That's correct. That's what we are aiming for.

"We will do our utmost to prepare as scheduled so that the International Olympic Committee will be convinced we are capable of hosting the games."

Japan has had 847 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 28 deaths.

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    Olympic hopefuls for the Tokyo Olympic Games have expressed delight about an expedited JMD$40 million injection by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) under its ‘Olympic Invest’ programme, to fund their preparation and qualification.

    Among them was 2016 Olympian Yona Knight-Wisdom, who underlined the impact on preparation created by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

    “2020 has, of course, been difficult for everybody, but particularly for athletes in so many ways - spending so much time away from normal training, losing the chance to earn prize money from competitions and also the exposure that big events can bring. So it’s great to finally be back in full-time training, preparing for whatever 2021 brings,” said the diver based in the United Kingdom.

    “But to have the financial backing of the JOA will help to give me that extra bit of motivation to work hard every day and be ready to compete to my highest level when the time comes,” the 25-year-old added.

    Kinght-Wisdom created history in becoming the first athlete to represent Jamaica in Olympic diving competition at the 2016 Rio Games. He explained that additional JOA funding will allow him to focus unilaterally on competition.

    “This investment will allow for me to get more physiotherapy to help look after my body, as well as to help pay for day-to-day training expenses such as travel, which means I can focus on the important things,” he said.

    “Hopefully this support will allow all of us to represent Jamaica to our highest level in Tokyo, because I believe a successful Olympics will bring joy and lift the spirits of the island as we come out of this terrible pandemic.”

    Tafari Whitter of Skateboarding Jamaica Limited, who is hoping to become the nation’s first Olympic skateboarder believes the funds being made available will ease difficulties created by COVID-19.

    “I am very proud of the JOA family on the fast track of 40 million dollars for athletes’ preparation, due to COVID making things hard for most of us,” said Whitter.

    “The JOA family managed to still keep things under control throughout these rough times and that is why I am so thankful and grateful for the opportunity of being part of history. Love you Jamaica. Let’s go to Tokyo. I am so, so proud of the JOA family.”

    Martial artist Alton Brown has his sights firmly set on Olympic competition in karate. He is the number-one ranked male karate athlete within the Caribbean and number two in his division across Pan America and number 22 in the world.

    “I have my eyes firmly set on two objectives; qualification and medal success at the Tokyo Games and legacy within Jamaica Karate following the Games. This additional funding from the JOA will have a vital impact on my ability to continue to pursue and successfully reach those goals,” Brown said.

    “The movement towards qualification at these Games has been four years in the making and would not be possible without the JOA’s support at key moments throughout this journey. In addition, the efforts of the Jamaica Karate Federation, under the leadership of Tony Robinson, have been instrumental in getting us to this moment.”

    Brown explained that the rigors of qualification demands monetary support.

    “Since 2018, the financial burden to the athlete of participating in the karate qualification process for Tokyo has been unprecedented, with almost 20 events taking place across five continents,” he shared.

    “We have adapted well to the COVID-19 Pandemic, utilizing relationships we hold with national teams across the Caribbean and Europe to continue development. This funding will not only allow us to be present at the final qualification events from February 2021, but also maximize the relationships we hold with other national teams, to ensure vital partner training opportunities necessary to continue to produce world-class results.

    “The world is taking note of Jamaica Karate and this additional funding will allow us to finish the race and make Jamaica proud,” said Brown.

     

  • Jamaica's Olympic hopefuls to benefit from large cash injection from JOA Jamaica's Olympic hopefuls to benefit from large cash injection from JOA

    The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) will continue its developmental initiative dubbed ‘Olympic Invest’ to honour its commitment to athletes who are challenging for an Olympic berth in Tokyo next year, by investing JMD$40,000,000.00 in their preparation and qualifying events of the greatest global sporting event.

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    IOC President Thomas Bach, in announcing the decision Wednesday said there was a clear need for more solidarity.

    "One important lesson that I hope we have all learnt from the current Coronavirus crisis is that we need more solidarity,” he said. “We need more solidarity within societies, but also among societies. Solidarity is one of the key Olympic values which the Olympic community is actively promoting. Today’s decision is a very strong demonstration in times of a worldwide crisis.”

    Meantime, JOA President Christopher Samuda has hailed the decision by the IOC.

    "The decision demonstrates an admirable commitment to the development of its member National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the athletes and is an empathetic response to the challenges being experienced by the global Olympic sport community in the wake of the COVID - 19 pandemic," he said.

    The decision of the world governing body equates to 25 per cent increase in the funding of direct athlete support programmes which will benefit athletes of the national Olympic teams and IOC refugee Olympic teams and will support the wide range of athlete centric educational and developmental initiatives which the IOC undertakes particularly to empower NOCs to keep athletes at the heart of the Olympic Movement.

    "For the JOA the athletes come first and therefore we must invest strategically in their development in realising optimally their talents in competition and in providing them with a sound foundation and springboard beyond their competition life. The IOC's decision embodies this" President Samuda said.

    One of the priorities of Olympic Solidarity for 2021-2024 quadrennial is to ensure good governance, financial control and compliance by strengthening capacity-building programmes for NOCs.

    Secretary General and CEO of the JOA, Ryan Foster, commented: "the JOA is all about capacity building and institutional strengthening and therefore we can readily identify with and embrace this priority not only as a principle of good governance but as a way of life in sport"

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