Sebastian Coe says, athletics' governing body takes Olympic health concerns 'very, very seriously'

New Delhi, Delhi, India Updated: May 09, 2021, 05:04 PM IST


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World Athletics president Sebastian Coe insisted that this summer's Tokyo Olympics could be held in a safe environment.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe insisted on Sunday, May 9 that this summer's Tokyo Olympics could be held in a safe environment.

Opinion surveys have shown that most Japanese oppose holding the Games this summer due to worries about the pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on Sunday (May 10), Coe sought to reassure people that the measures taken by the organizing bodies mean that the Games can go ahead safely.

"We are very empathetic to the need to be fully recognizing that communities around the world are inevitably nervous about many things related to COVID," he said.

"Look, we are all family people, we have children, we have grandchildren, we have elderly and sometimes vulnerable relatives, so I understand this, I completely understand this.

"What I would say though, as president of World Athletics as respectfully as I can, is that we take those concerns very, very seriously. The COVID protocols, particularly that World Athletics have developed over the last year and a half by our health and science teams who are extremely good at this, have consistently helped deliver events in a safe and secure environment."

Coe pointed to the last weekend's world relay championships in Poland as an example of how the measures are working, with no positive COVID tests reported from over 700 athletes taking part.

Coe was speaking on a day when hundreds of athletes, including U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin, participated in a test event at the Olympic Stadium, as organizers fine-tuned operations and practiced COVID-19 countermeasures with under three months to go before the Tokyo Games begin.

No spectators were present in the stadium, where the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies will be held, as Tokyo remains under a state of emergency to tame a rise in coronavirus infections.

Despite the state of emergency, organizers have operated more than eleven test events since last month with no reported coronavirus cases resulting.