The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is under fire after two Turkish boxers and a trainer caught coronavirus during a qualifying event in London this month.
According to the Turkish Boxing Federation website, athlete Serhat Guler and trainer Seyfullah Dumlupinar contracted the virus at the European qualifying tournament.
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“While the world was taking extreme measures to deal with the virus, I am baffled that an IOC taskforce and the British government allowed the tournament to start even though many of us had concerns and almost every other sport had shut down,” Federation President Eyup Gozgec was quoted as saying in the Guardian.
London's Copper Box Arena hosted the official Olympic qualifying tournament, featuring boxers from 40 nations.
It continued for three days despite virtually every other sport being suspended because of the pandemic.
In a letter to other boxing federations, Gozgec, who is also vice-president of the European Boxing Confederation, said: “Unfortunately, two of our athletes and our Turkish head coach have tested positive for the new type COVID-19 coronavirus after returning to Turkey from London.
“All of them are in treatment now and thankfully they are in good condition. This is the disastrous result of the irresponsibility of the IOC taskforce.
“This virus has been around since December 2019. Therefore, it is inevitable to ask why the European qualification event was not postponed before it took place?
“They did not consider anyone's health, which led them to organise this horrible event.”
In the global #COVID2019 pandemic a small story but shows senseless risk of sport even last week. My instinct was not to go— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) March 25, 2020
IOC under pressure with 2 Turkish boxers now positive for coronavirus post London qualifying event https://t.co/Yxbk80vyT8
Origin per @seaningle 💥
IOC boss defends delay in announcing postponement
A day after officially postponing the Tokyo Olympics, IOC president Thomas Bach invoked comments by President Donald Trump to defend himself from criticism.
Bach spoke to about 400 reporters on a conference call and was quizzed why, despite growing concern from athletes, it took so long to postpone the Tokyo Games.
He noted that many governments have imposed social limits only into next month and pointed to Trump’s hope of easing restrictions by mid-April.
“In the last couple of weeks the measures of many governments, they were limited until middle of April, some beginning of May,” the International Olympic Committee president said.
“You have maybe seen the latest declarations there in the United States from President Trump about the prospect of middle of April there being able to lift many restrictions.”
Bach and the IOC faced mounting criticism last week from athletes, including Olympic gold medalists, and pundits for continuing to publicly support holding the Tokyo Games as scheduled, as well as the time it took to decide upon postponement.
I understand that sport isn’t everything and there are more important issues sourrounding coronavirus but thought I would speak out purely on what my situation of it has been. Hope the UK, France and the rest of the world stay safe and look after each other in these crazy times❤️ pic.twitter.com/0zxECDetpM— KJT (@JohnsonThompson) March 17, 2020
This is not about how things will be in 4 months. This is about how things are now. The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family’s health and public health to train every day? You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months.https://t.co/cICKVQ4qsZ— Katerina Stefanidi (@KatStefanidi) March 17, 2020
I’m sorry Mr Bach but this is tone deaf. The instinct to keep safe (not to mention obey govt instructions to lock down) is not compatible with athlete training, travel and focus that a looming Olympics demands of athletes, spectators organisers etc Keep them safe. Call it off. https://t.co/nKnEEiVku1— Matthew Pinsent (@matthewcpinsent) March 18, 2020
That is 6 weeks later than the decision should have been made. This is showing a lot of the ugly economics that underpin the Olympics than many may not have seen previously. It is disgraceful they didn't make this call already. Purely an economic decision. Shameful. https://t.co/XDtdagzI8I— Jacklyn Grace 'Capitalism Comorbidity' Lacey (@TheVelvetDays) March 22, 2020
@Olympics what's it going to take for you to postpone the Olympics, someone's health? Disgraceful— Brian Jones (@beejones80) March 21, 2020
Aussies helped force IOC’s hand
The Australian Olympic Committee said before the decision it would not send a team to Tokyo in 2020.
Bach was also asked by a reporter from his native Germany if he had thought of resigning because of the athletes’ criticism.
“No,” he replied.
The postponement calls for the Tokyo Games to take place no later than the summer 2021, and Bach was asked about options if the pandemic continued into next year.
“We want, and we will, organise the Games only in a safe environment,” he said.
with Associated Press and Yahoo Sports Staff