Mon | Jul 6, 2020

On with the show - Olympics, Paralympics organisers remain confident despite COVID-19 crisis

Published:Thursday | March 19, 2020 | 12:26 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer

Christopher Samuda, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA), said that there are no plans at this point to cancel this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, despite the devastating global effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Samuda spoke to The Gleaner following a teleconference with International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons and other National Paralympic Committee (NPC) presidents yesterday, to discuss the way forward.

The JOA, also yesterday, shared through a media release that the International Olympic Committee remains committed to the staging of the Olympic Games, which is scheduled to take place July 24 - August 9.

“The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games, there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage, and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive,” The IOC stated through a communique following a meeting of its executive board.

Following yesterday’s meeting with the IPC, Samuda shared that the body would be constantly monitoring the situation, but as it stands, they are proceeding with executing the Paralympic Games, which is scheduled for August 25 - September 6.

“Plans are still being made in relation the staging of the (Paralympic) Games, and there has been no decision to cancel it. As a matter of fact, preparations are still on the way for the Games,” Samuda said.

“They are watching the situation very carefully as we are to ensure that this virus, if in fact authorised, that it is managed so that it won’t play any problems for the athletes, coaches, and managers,” he said. “Preparations are still on the way, and, in fact, there have been no decision, and, in fact, I think that they are giving themselves a month or two before they make any decision as to whether the Games will occur.”

With almost 9,000 deaths and over 200,000 confirmed cases, there is serious concern around the Paralympic and Olympic Games due to the effects of the coronavirus disease across the globe. A number of leagues and tournaments – including Olympic qualifiers – have already been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.

Jamaica yesterday confirmed its first death from the disease.