Written with extracts from The International Paralympic Committee Website
March 21st 2020
1. Are there any plans to cancel or postpone the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games?
With over 150 days to go until the Opening Ceremony, the IPC and Tokyo 2020 are continuing with planning and preparations for the Paralympic Games to open on 25 August. We are well aware of the current situation and its serious impact around the world. As the IPC is not a signatory to the Host City Contract, it is for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to make any decisions regarding the Games.
- Why has a decision not been taken yet regarding Tokyo 2020 when so many other sport events have been cancelled?
Many of the decisions taken in the last weeks impact sport competitions or events that are due to be happening now or are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks. The Paralympics are more than 150 days away, we have some time, and therefore we continue to monitor the situation with Tokyo 2020, the IOC and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- What is the deadline for taking a decision on whether the Games will go ahead or not?
As the global situation is changing by the hour, no deadline is in place.
- Can the IPC take a decision to cancel or postpone the Paralympics even if the Olympics still go ahead?
The Olympic and Paralympic Games come as a pair in one fantastic festival of sport. As the IPC is not a signatory to the Host City Contract, it is for the IOC to make any decisions regarding the Games.
- What measures and means of protection against Coronavirus (COVID-19) are planned at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and will the IPC issue any advice beforehand?
As with any competition or Games, athlete health and well-being are a top priority and a crucial element for the success of the Games. In addition to protecting athlete health, Tokyo 2020 has its own responsibility towards its own workforce and volunteers.
Since mid-February, a task force with IOC, IPC, WHO, Tokyo 2020, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese Government has been established to ensure co-ordinated actions by all stakeholders and to form the basis for operational planning and necessary adaptations.
Tokyo 2020 has been very transparent and responsive to any recommendation from this task force, as they did in the past on any recommendation for adverse weather conditions and heat countermeasures.
Public health monitoring is an integral part of the Tokyo 2020 Medical Services with on-site offices in the Village Polyclinic during Games time. Countermeasures against infectious diseases constitute an important part of Tokyo 2020’s plans to host a safe and secure Games. Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organisations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases. They will also review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organisations. We are therefore very confident that Tokyo 2020 will respond in an adequate and responsible way in coordination with the IPC and IOC and keep all stakeholders informed.
- Many athletes are currently unable to train as normal due to local authority restrictions. Does the IPC have any way to ensure there is some parity and equity in so far as how much athletes are able to access training facilities across different nations?
We have great empathy for each athlete who is facing a situation where she or he cannot train due to local restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic. As almost every country is impacted by this situation, we are asking for the help of NPCs and National Federations who work daily with their athletes, to help identify potential solutions for athletes, where possible. On a related matter, we recognise that many Para athletes around the world face significant barriers to train freely or gain access to training facilities on a regular basis. In this time of crisis, we ask that everyone remain mindful of the different conditions Para athletes encounter around the world and commit once more to join efforts to improve opportunities for all.
- Is the IPC concerned that movement restrictions within countries could lead to issues in terms of anti-doping?
We are aware and have been informed by several National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) that the virus outbreak is having an impact on their operations. All such matters are tracked by the IPC Anti-Doping team who are working with all NADOs and partners to ensure pre-Games preparations are not compromised.
The IPC has provided NADOs with lists of priority athletes to test prior to the Games and has communicated with its own testing partners who will continue out-of-competition testing wherever possible.
Due to the number of cancelled competitions, how can athletes still qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games if they have not yet achieved the Minimum Qualification Standard (MQS)?
We cannot answer this question at present because each International Federation is re-assessing their own qualification criteria. Any changes will be published in the Tokyo 2020 Qualification Criteria.
Are any new qualification events planned to replace those competitions that have been cancelled?
Each International Federation is responsible for their own competition calendar. Due to the ongoing global containment strategy of COVID-19, the majority of events are now cancelled throughout the world until at least early April. Where possible, and if safe to do so, we hope postponed competitions can be rearranged to not only offer qualification opportunities but athlete classification as well.