Katerina Stefanidi

World and Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi, said athletes were being forced to take health risks as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) insists it remains fully committed to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Stefanidi, who was scheduled to be the final runner to carry the olympic torch before handing it over to Japanese officials on Thursday, told Reuters, “We all want Tokyo to happen but what is the Plan B if it does not happen? Knowing about a possible option has a major effect on my training because I may be taking risks now that I would not take if I knew there was also the possibility of a Plan B.”

“We have to decide whether to risk our health and continue training in the current environment,” she concluded.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9.

British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson also criticised the IOC for telling athletes to train “as best they can”, saying it was at odds with stringent government health measures.

“I feel under pressure to train and keep the same routine which is impossible,” she wrote on Twitter.

Earlier this week, UEFA announced that the Euro 2020 football tournament has been postponed until the summer of 2021.

At the time of publishing this article, World Health Organization figures show more than 207,860 people globally have been infected by coronavirus, with more than 8,657 deaths.

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