Australian athletes still planning to compete in Tokyo 2020 Olympics against travel advice

Australia is still planning to send athletes to Tokyo 2020, despite the Federal Government telling Australians not to leave the country.

The annoucemnt was made on Thursday.

The annoucemnt was made on Thursday. Source: Getty

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is looking at a range of extreme isolation options to protect athletes should the Tokyo Olympic Games proceed.

There is growing doubt whether Tokyo 2020 should or will start in four months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AOC has put a range of questions to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the global body attempted to provide fresh assurances overnight in a teleconference.

But at this stage the message from Australian team chef de mission Ian Chesterman to athletes is clear; prepare for the Olympics to start as scheduled.

AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll (left) and Australian Team Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 Ian Chesterman (right) address the media.
Source: AAP

It is easier said than done amid the current health crisis, which has prompted governments around the world to introduce a range of life-changing measures to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Chesterman, who was part of the overnight IOC teleconference, declared Australia's athletes want to compete at Tokyo and "if everyone's planning for the Games than we must as well, that's our obligation to the athletes".

Mr Chesterman added the AOC is talking with Australian sporting organisations regarding possible plans for the logistical nightmare that is trying to ensure every athlete arrives and departs Japan without the virus.

"More base camps, longer base camps here in Australia before they depart for the Games," Mr Chesterman said, outlining some of the potential options.

"With a recognition they will be coronavirus free.

Office workers wearing masks walk past the emblem of Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Source: AAP

"We'll also look at longer base camp options in Japan ... there won't be one giant base camp in Australia before the Games.

"Special charter flight arrangement potentially to take athletes into Tokyo and ensure the isolation period they've been taking is protected on the way to the Games.

"We'll continue to work with the best minds in Australian sport ... some sports have well-established plans and it'll just be a matter of extending those plans."

Australia's chef de mission at London 2012, Nick Green, and many other athletes and officials around the world have questioned how the Games can go ahead in the current climate.

Chesterman and AOC chief executive Matt Carroll were pressed about this throughout Thursday's press conference in Sydney, repeatedly insisting the IOC is taking advice from the World Health Organisation and would protect the health of everyone involved.

"Think back to where this virus was a month ago," Mr Carroll said.

"Things have changed.

"Nobody is quite sure how things will pan out in four to six months.

"They're taking a measured approach. They're getting the best possible advice they can possibly get.

"At times it will shift ... if things change then the IOC's decisions will change."

As of Tuesday afternoon, only people who have recently travelled from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and experienced symptoms within 14 days are advised to be tested.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

Published 19 March 2020 at 10:46am