‘Too early’ for Belgium to pull out of 2020 Tokyo Olympics
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‘Too early’ for Belgium to pull out of 2020 Tokyo Olympics

© Belga

It is still “too early” to decide whether the coronavirus pandemic will see Belgium withdraw from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the Belgian Olympic Games Committee (BOIC) said on Monday.

“It is too early for us to stop believing in it,” BOIC spokesman Luc Rampaer told the Belga news agency on Monday, one day after Canada became the first country to say it would not be sending athletes to Tokyo this summer.

Ramper’s statements also come as Australia said that due to the “untenable” situation linked to the pandemic, it would also pull out of the games, telling athletes to prepare for 2021 instead.

Rampaer said that while the committee had “anticipated such reactions” from across the globe, he urged positivity in the face of the pandemic.

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“We don’t want to think about postponing the Games yet,” he said, saying that postponement would have “complex consequences,” ranging from dwindling audience engagement from complications with organisation and infrastructure.

But as an increasing number of countries are pushed into nation-wide lockdowns amid the sprawling coronavirus pandemic, pressure has been mounting on organisers to make a call on whether to postpone the global sporting event.

Ramper’s comments echoed earlier statements by the International Olympics Committee (IOC), whose CEO said on 18 March that they were planning to go on with the games as planned.

But the IOC on Sunday walked back on its comments, issuing a statement in which they said they were considering “alternative scenarios” to avoid cancelling the event.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday conceded that Japan may have “no choice but to postpone the Games” if the global situation continues to worsen.

On Monday, the Belgian federation of basketball said that it would support a decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics, while Switzerland’s Olympics Committee also said it would not be taking part “as long as the pandemic was not under control.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times