AOC mull extreme measures for Tokyo 2020

The Australian Olympic Committee is planning for Tokyo 2020 to go ahead, having begun talks with sporting bodies regarding potential measures for coming months.

The figureheads of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) insist they don't live in a bubble, but athletes will have to do that for four months if they wish to compete at the Tokyo Games in July.

There is growing doubt whether Tokyo 2020 should or will start in four months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the AOC reiterated on Thursday that its expectation is it will.

The AOC is looking at a range of extreme isolation options to protect athletes as they plot the most unlikely and precarious of paths to the Tokyo Games opening ceremony on July 24.

The AOC has also put a range of questions to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the global body attempted to provide fresh assurances overnight, unsurprisingly failing to quell growing global expectations the Games will be cancelled.

Yet the message from Australian team chef de mission Ian Chesterman to athletes was clear; prepare for the Olympics to begin as scheduled.

It is easier said than done amid the current health crisis.

Nobody can currently leave Australia as key Olympic tune-ups continue to be scrapped around the world, all in an effort to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

Chesterman declared Australia's athletes want to compete at Tokyo and "if everyone's planning for the Games then we must as well, that's our obligation to the athletes".

The AOC is talking with Australian sporting organisations regarding possible plans for the logistical nightmare that is trying to ensure every athlete arrives and departs Japan without the virus.

"More base camps, longer base camps here in Australia before they depart for the Games," Chesterman said, outlining some of the potential options.

"We'll also look at longer base camp options in Japan ... there won't be one giant base camp in Australia before the Games.

"Special charter flight arrangements potentially to take athletes into Tokyo, and ensure the isolation period they've been taking is protected on the way to the Games.

"We'll continue to work with the best minds in Australian sport ... some sports have well-established plans and it'll just be a matter of extending those plans."

Australia's chef de mission at London 2012, Nick Green, and many other athletes and officials around the world have questioned how the Games can go ahead.

Chesterman and AOC chief executive Matt Carroll were pressed about this throughout Thursday's press conference in Sydney, repeatedly insisting the IOC is taking advice from the World Health Organisation.

"The AOC does not live in a bubble ... the IOC is not in an Olympic bubble," Carroll said.

"We recognise there is a global health crisis. We recognise that people are suffering.

"Think back to where this virus was a month ago.

"Things have changed. Nobody is quite sure how things will pan out."

Carroll praised the IOC's "measured approach", rejecting suggestions that money was seemingly more important than athlete welfare in the decision-making process.

"The IOC's finances have always been built on a Games not proceeding," he said.

"They're getting the best possible advice.

"At times it will shift ... if things change then the IOC's decisions will change."


AAP