SA athletes urged to continue training as doubts mount over Tokyo Olympics

Mr Aleck Skhosana, President of Athletics South Africa, during the Athletix Grand Prix Series Press Conference at Rumsig Athletics Stadium on February 27, 2018 in Johannesburg.
Mr Aleck Skhosana, President of Athletics South Africa, during the Athletix Grand Prix Series Press Conference at Rumsig Athletics Stadium on February 27, 2018 in Johannesburg.
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana has urged local athletes to continue with their training programs under strict personal protection as speculation heightens that this year’s Tokyo Olympics could be postponed.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound on Monday told USA Today that the games will be postponed to next year but said the exact details are going to be worked out in the next four weeks.

The organisers and the government of Japan have come under intense global pressure to postpone the event for the first time in the Olympics' 124-year modern history and the likelihood is that they will eventually accede to the demand.

“Whoever wants to qualify‚ unfortunately he or she has to wait until such time there is an opportunity to do so‚” said Skhosana.

“To those who have already qualified‚ we are sending a clear message to them that they must continue to train under strict rules of personal protection and make sure that they don’t get the virus or spread it to other people.”

Skhosana also acknowledged that the suspension of events until further notice is going to hit ASA‚ athletes and race organizers very hard financially because of loss of income.

“Race organizers and athletes who rely on races on a weekly basis are going to lose a lot of money for their families and for personal survival.

"For us as ASA‚ we are going to lose earnings from broadcast rights we have with the national broadcaster SABC.

"Because of the suspension of the events‚ we have to renegotiate.”

Skhosana added that top athletes like Caster Semenya‚ Akani Simbine‚ Wayde van Niekerk‚ Bongmusa Mthembu and many others must help government to spread the message about the dangers of the virus.

“We also call upon the Casters‚ Van Niekerks‚ Simbines and Mthembusa of this world to help us in spreading the message so that people out there can understand how dangerous this virus is.

"They are international stars who have a lot of influence and we hope that they can be able to assist us so that we can fight this virus and win.”

As uncertainty mounted on Tuesday over whether the Games would be postponed‚ several countries around the would have alraedy announced that they would not be sending teams to Tokyo.

But ASA and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) are yet to express their position.

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