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The International Olympic Committee in Lausanne was under increasing pressure on Sunday

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French athletics chief joins calls for Olympic postponement

The International Olympic Committee in Lausanne was under increasing pressure on Sunday © AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI

PARIS, France, Mar 22The president of the French Athletics Federation on Sunday said he did not understand why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was refusing to postpone the Tokyo Olympics in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Andre Giraud joined a swelling chorus of objections when he told AFP that the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) must “take a stand”.

He said that the IOC should already be thinking of what he called “Plan C”, a postponement to 2021.

“It cannot be accepted that the IOC is not listening to the number one Olympic sport,” Giraud said. “Everyone agrees that the Games cannot be held on the dates planned.”

“If the crisis is contained by the end of May, we can envisage a postponement of the Games to the autumn. But Plan C would be a six-month or one-year postponement.

“How can we bring together 11,000 athletes in less than four months in the Olympic village? The athletes are in a stressful situation and we need to reassure them. We can’t wait any longer.

Giraud also called CNOSF President Denis Masseglie to act.

“I appeal to the CNOSF to take action with the IOC. We need a national position of solidarity,” he said.

“At the Games, the French team is under the CNOSF banner. The responsibility at national level therefore lies with the CNOSF President to listen to his federations and take a stand.”

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IOC president Thomas Bach has signalled his determination to press ahead with the Games in Tokyo from July 29 to August 9, telling the New York Times that postponement “would not be responsible now” as “we are four-and-a-half months away from the Games”.

On Friday USA Swimming said they wanted the Games postponed. They were soon joined by France’s swimming federation and the Norwegian Olympic Committee as well as likely competitors.

The US and Spanish athletics federations have also asked for a postponement.

Sebastian Coe, the head of World Track and Field, hinted that he was leaning that way.

“I don’t think we should have the Olympic Games at all costs,” said Coe, who ran the 2012 London Games. “A decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly.”

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