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S. Korean Olympic body in wait-and-see mode as IOC, Japan hint at postponing Tokyo 2020


The South Korean national Olympic body is taking a wait-and-see approach in its buildup for the Tokyo Olympics, which may well be postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Following an Executive Board meeting Sunday in Lausanne, Switzerland, the International Olympic Committee said it will step up its "scenario-planning" for Tokyo 2020, with changes to the start date of the competition among the possibilities. The IOC's decision is expected within the next four weeks.

The IOC board met for the second time in six days, after its initial commitment to holding the July 24-Aug. 9 competition as scheduled was met with heavy criticism from athletes, national Olympic committees and even some IOC members. The IOC was accused of being tone-deaf and irresponsible for jeopardizing athletes' health.

Hours after the IOC's new announcement, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said postponing the Olympics would be unavoidable if the competition can't be staged in complete form.

And within hours of these comments, as if on cue, Canada and Australia said they will not send their athletes to the Japanese capital if the Olympic Games are held this year.

The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee said Monday it wasn't yet ready to join the line, and will instead wait until the IOC makes its final call.

For now, the KSOC's focus is on helping the athletes prepare for the Olympics the best they can, no matter when the event takes place.

Olympic athletes are housed in the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, some 90 kilometers south of Seoul. The main training facility for amateur athletes is nestled in a quiet, remote corner of the small town in North Chungcheong Province, and to help prevent COVID-19 infection in the closed confines, athletes and coaches are banned from leaving the center.

With South Korea's battle against the virus dragging on, Shin Chi-yong, head of the training center, acknowledged Monday that some athletes may be losing their focus. The coronavirus has forced postponement or cancellation of many regional Olympic qualifying events and national team trials, meaning some athletes have been cooped up inside the training center for months on end.

The KSOC plans to sit down with the sports ministry to discuss adjustments to operations of the training center. (Yonhap)


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