Following the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons gave the following reaction:
“Postponing the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak is absolutely the right thing to do. The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sport event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible.
“Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is. It is essential therefore that all steps are taken to try and limit the spread of this disease.
“The COVID-19 outbreak is now impacting nearly every country in the world and the number of known cases has increased almost five times over in the last 10 days to 375,000.
“At a time when many major communities around the world are in lockdown, with workplaces and shops closed and people urged not to leave their own homes, continuing to pursue the dream of the Tokyo 2020 Games happening this year does not make sense; postponement is the only logical option.
“By taking this decision now, everyone involved in the Paralympic Movement, including all Para athletes, can fully focus on their own health and well-being and staying safe during this unprecedented and difficult time.
“When the Paralympic Games do happen in Tokyo next year, they will be a spectacular global celebration of humanity coming together again as one.
“In the meantime, we will liaise and work closely with our athlete community, National Paralympic Committees and International Federations impacted by this postponement.”
Chelsey Gotell, Chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council, said: “From an athlete viewpoint this is the right decision for the athletes, the Games and the wider Paralympic Movement. We all now have greater clarity about when the Games will take place, and this is very welcome news for the global Para athlete community.
“We are happy that the IOC and the Japan’s Prime Minster Abe took this decision so quickly. It enables athletes to take a step back and focus on the current situation at hand.
“No athlete in the world wants to go into a major competition, let alone the Paralympic Games unsure of fitness or form. But this was the situation many athletes around the world were facing up to, due to an inability to train or compete in events due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Now that a decision has been taken, it is important that the Para athlete community come together, rally around and support each other during this difficult time. We should also look to use our influential positions in society to encourage others to take the right measures to stay safe during this uncertain period.”