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Coronavirus: Olympics as ghost games? Athletes "under high tension"

2020-02-27T14:18:34.166Z

ZEIT ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates



Berlin (dpa) - ghost games in front of empty ranks, the fear of infection and quarantine, even a cancellation of the Olympic spectacle - or rather hope for change and business as usual?

The coronavirus epidemic worries many top athletes, but five months before the start of the Olympic Games, most of them are on schedule. "We just keep doing our job," said javelin throwing Olympic champion Thomas Röhler of the German Press Agency, thus meeting the tenor of many colleagues.

Despite all serenity: Even «ghost games» in the Tokyo metropolitan region with around 30 million inhabitants have become «a possible scenario for Röhler in view of the situation - a sword of Damocles hovers over it». From Röhler's point of view, the Olympics in front of empty stands would be “the worst case scenario. Ghost games would be worse than a cancellation! The charm of the games is lost. »

The problem is “not the virus, but traveling when someone is coughing on the plane poses the risk of a subsequent quarantine. Then you are 14 days away from the window, isolated somewhere and cannot train », said the 28-year-old.

“Many athletes are currently acutely concerned with the topic of upcoming qualification competitions. Traveling there is currently a risk, but the standards have to be met. The situation changes from day to day and it is difficult to assess it, »said Amélie Ebert, member of the Presidium for Athletes in Germany. «Everyone is under high tension. The consequences are currently not foreseeable. We hope that more information will be available as soon as possible, »said the ex-synchronized swimmer, currently a medical student in the 11th semester.

Decathlon world champion Niklas Kaul would understand that the games would be canceled. "Health is paramount," said the 22-year-old in a Sport1 interview. A cancellation would be a shame, said Kaul. "But in the end, it doesn't help if we have super great Olympic Games with lots of fans and athletes - and in the end there is a rapid increase in corona infections, which would be very critical, especially for older people," added the man from Mainz.

Wrestling world and European champion Frank Stäbler wants to prepare as planned for the summer games, his last international competition. «Olympia is still far away. I hope that governments and health organizations get a grip on it, »said the 30-year-old from Baden-Württemberg. Rudolf Scharping, President of the Association of German Cyclists, said at the World Cycling Championships in Berlin: «I assume that the Olympic Games will take place. Anything else would be irresponsible speculation. »

Swimming Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has asked Australia's athletes to rethink their Olympic participation. "I would definitely be concerned," said Thorpe in Canberra, according to media reports. The new type of corona virus is a risk for athletes. The 37-year-old advised that you should first think about your health before deciding to take part in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The Hungarian world-class swimmer Katinka Hosszu is not affected in her preparation for Tokyo. «I really can't even imagine that the Olympics will be canceled. It would be a nightmare for the athletes, »said the 30-year-old three-time Olympic champion of the news agency AP. She sees the news, but in her mind she is prepared as if the Olympics are taking place: "Moving is definitely better than canceling everything."

There is currently no threat of cancellation, and the probability can hardly be quantified as a percentage - but it stands in the room and becomes a topic of conversation. Even the former IOC Vice President Richard Pound (77) would understand that he should refuse. "I'm sure," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, "that the IOC would not make a decision that would be against a decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments on this matter."

In Japan, 894 cases of infection have been confirmed by Thursday. There are seven deaths. With 705 infections, however, the majority of this is attributable to passengers and crew members of the cruise ship "Diamond Princess". Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on the organizers of major sporting and cultural events planned over the next two weeks to cancel or postpone them if necessary. The next two weeks are a critical time for Japan to prevent an increase in infections.

The German U-20 women canceled their international trip to Japan planned for next week. The Olympic Games are scheduled to take place from July 24th to August 9th. Around 11,000 athletes are expected, and another 4,400 are expected to start at the Paralympics, which will open on August 25th. The IOC Coordinating Commission is fully committed to the scheduled hosting of the Summer Games, IOC President Thomas Bach said in a conference call with the Japanese media on Thursday, according to the Kyodo news agency, adding that no one wants to speculate about alternatives.

WHO situation reports Covid-19

Robert Koch Institute on Covid-19

WHO information page Covid-19

Röhler profile

Source: zeit

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