Paralympics Australia welcomes the most recent remarks from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) about exploring new measures to contain COVID-19, including the postponement of Tokyo 2020.
We also note today’s (23 March) statement from our colleagues at the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), who have now shifted their planning and focus to a rescheduled Olympic Games to be staged in the northern hemisphere summer of 2021.
Although a decision to that effect has not officially been made, Paralympics Australia is wholly supportive of a postponement of the Paralympic Games in the best interests of public health, both here and abroad. It is hard to see another option.
For our athletes, the speculation and uncertainty in recent weeks has been a huge burden to carry. Most have been unable to train. Many have lost competition and qualification opportunities. Some have, or will in coming weeks and months, lose income streams. Our coaches, support staff and sports are also increasingly feeling the strain as the Coronavirus pandemic tightens its hold on our way of life. The impact goes so far beyond sport.
The way ahead for Paralympics Australia will be built on the physical and mental well-being of our community in the long-term, particularly for many members of the Australian Paralympic Team who have additional health considerations due to their level of impairment.
Our athletes can no longer put themselves or others at risk by maintaining the required level of Games preparation.
It is our hope that the IOC and IPC’s decision regarding postponement is swift, although we acknowledge the monumental scale of factors that influence such a decision and the unenviable task to weigh up the options and make the call.
In any case, we are ready to react accordingly and always with our athletes and teams at the heart of everything we do.
We have been incredibly heartened by the level of transparency and collaboration with our sporting partners in recent weeks, most notably with our national sporting organisations, the Australian Institute of Sport and the AOC.
And we continue to be grateful for the incredible level of support we have received from Paralympics Australia’s sponsor family and Government at all levels during these unprecedented times.
We don’t take this support for granted and it is clear that it has never been more critical to enable Australia’s Paralympic athletes to achieve their potential and inspire our community.
As more information reaches us, we will continue to keep you informed, and we thank you in advance for your ongoing contribution to the Australian Paralympic movement.
Stay with us, keep well and look after each other.
Lynne Anderson Kate McLoughlin
Chief Executive Officer Chef de Mission
Paralympics Australia 2020 Australian Paralympic Team