NZOC focus on Games going ahead

Kereyn Smith. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Kereyn Smith. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The New Zealand Olympic Committee is staying clear of speculation about this year’s Tokyo Games.

Uncertainty has lingered over whether the Games, which have already been rescheduled from last year, will go ahead.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach yesterday said the organisation was committed to the Games going ahead.

An article in The Times yesterday suggested the Japanese Government has privately decided the Games will not happen due to the ongoing risk of Covid-19, but a Government spokesman later said there was ``no truth'' to the report Japan was now focused on rescheduling the event to 2032.

While all this made for a challenging time, NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith said the organisation was not focusing on the speculation.

"Our job is massively challenging right now, but it’s not about the speculation.

"It’s about understanding the environment the Olympics will present and what the expectations are and how they’ll operate.

"Interpreting that and ensuring our athletes will know and understand that.

"That is our focus and it is a very big focus."

She said the Games would look different from those in the past as health and safety became the focus.

That would probably mean adjustments over things such as spectators, ceremonies, how the village operated and athletes wearing protective equipment.

While the environment was different, Smith said the goal was still to prepare the athletes for competition as best as possible.

Despite all the extra concerns, she was confident that remained the focus for the athletes.

"I have no doubt in my mind the athletes preparing and wanting to qualify for Tokyo are very focused on their performance right now. I don’t think that’s a question.

"Our people are very much focused on ensuring their health and safety, but also that their performance environment is as good as it can be."

She said one of the big adjustments would be for New Zealand athletes who were not competing overseas at the moment.

It would probably mean they were not used to competition with the additional Covid-19 precautions and restrictions in place.

She added it would probably not be just Tokyo impacted by the pandemic, as there were likely to be precautions in place for years to come.

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