Olympics-Athletics-'If not now, when?' Briton Brownlee says Games should go on
Briton Alistair Brownlee said the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics should go ahead after doubts were raised about a cancellation if COVID-19 cases spiked.
REUTERS: Briton Alistair Brownlee said the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics should go ahead after doubts were raised about a cancellation if COVID-19 cases spiked.
Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief Toshiro Muto said on Tuesday they did not rule out cancelling the Games if COVID-19 cases rose, as more athletes tested positive for the virus.
There have been 67 cases of COVID-19 infections in Japan among people accredited for the Games since July 1, despite strict entry measures.
"I think they should go ahead," Brownlee, who won triathlon gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016, told the Guardian. "The timing is going to be difficult but it was always going to be difficult.
"'If not now, when?' is the argument I put forward to that. It provides a great opportunity to show that these events can get back to some sort of normality."
Brownlee will not defend his title in Japan after failing to qualify.
Rising COVID-19 cases in Tokyo have cast a shadow over a Games that, having already been postponed last year because of the pandemic, will now take place without spectators.
Japan has decided that participants would compete in empty venues to minimise health risks.
World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that the Games should go ahead to demonstrate to the world what can be achieved with the right plan and measures.
"It's obviously a shame the Olympics isn't going ahead as it would normally," said Brownlee.
"It's missing out so much of what the Olympics is about but I think, given the context we're in, it's a fantastic triumph that it's happening.
"The Olympics in this form is much better than no Olympic Games for every single athlete."
The Games will start on Friday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)