Team GB accept Olympics postponement with 'profound sadness'
"It is time for the athletes to stop thinking about Tokyo 2020 for now and be home and safe with their families"
Last Updated: 24/03/20 3:28pm
British Olympic officials say postponing this year's Games was the right decision but one they accept with "profound sadness".
The International Olympic Committee's decision to postpone the games comes after almost all sport was suspended in the wake of the outbreak, with football's European Championships also moving from this summer to 2021.
Chief executive of the British Olympic Association Andy Anson admitted it was the correct response to an unprecedented issue and that to proceed with the Games would have been "unthinkable".
"It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement, but in all consciousness it is the only decision we can support, in light of the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on our nation, our communities and our families," Anson said in a statement.
"Alongside UK Sport and the BPA, we have consulted with the National Governing Bodies of summer Olympic and Paralympic sports and with athlete representative groups, including our Athletes' Commissions and the British Athletes' Commission.
"It is with their input and support that we have a unanimous view that the impact of COVID-19 on athletes' training and preparation means their regimes are now compromised irreparably. It is time for them to stop thinking about Tokyo 2020 for now and be home and safe with their families.
London 2012 🇬🇧 🟢— Adam Gemili (@Adam_Gemili) March 24, 2020
Rio 2016 🇧🇷 🟢
Tokyo 2021 🇯🇵 🔜
Thankful to finally have some clarity regarding The Olympic Games. A huge decision but I think the right one for sure.
Time to regain, look after each other during this difficult period and go again when the time is right! pic.twitter.com/l1NjjUUmMy
"It would have been unthinkable for us to continue to prepare for an Olympic Games at a time the nation and the world no less is enduring great hardship. A postponement is the right decision.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "I welcome the much needed clarity given by the IOC today. The health and safety of all involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games must come first - whether that be athletes, sports fans or officials.
"I know our athletes have worked so hard in preparation but their time will come in the future, as it will for Tokyo that deserves to host a brilliant, memorable Games."
The postponement will have a huge impact on Olympic athletes who have been preparing to peak this summer, and Sally Munday, chief executive officer of UK Sport, said: "We are working closely with government to ensure we can effectively support sports and their athletes through this distressing period.
"I'd like to take the opportunity to reassure sports that our guidance from last week remains in place that we will not seek to recover any financial performance investment or Athlete Performance Awards due to disruption."
Jade Jones had been hoping to represent Team GB in taekwondo this summer, spoke of the impact on athletes and said: "I'm truly gutted - you give your heart and soul to something for four years then for it not to go ahead is just horrible.
"Obviously health comes first, and my biggest priority right now is protecting my family and my loved ones, and doing everything I can do help save the lives of others. But as an elite athlete, it is very demotivating and mentally tough.
GB rower John Collins, who finished fifth in the men's double sculls at Rio 2016, said: "The Olympics is everything we aim for so we're all pretty devastated - but we completely understand that this needed to happen."