French sport is looking for ways to express its wish for a postponement of the Olympic Games

Several major sports federations, such as the swimming and athletics federations in the United States, made it clear at the end of the week that they were in favor of postponing the Olympic Games, scheduled to be held in Tokyo at the end of July. ISSEI KATO / REUTERS

Should we postpone or not the Olympic Games which are to take place in Tokyo, Japan, from July 24 to August 9? A wait-and-see approach, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) still has time for reflection, despite the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. According to information from Reuters, the IOC and the Japanese organizers are now discreetly thinking about different postponement scenarios.

In the United States, major federations, those of swimming and athletics, made it clear at the weekend that they were favorable to the prospect of a postponement. Followed by an increasing number of other national sports bodies.

The French Swimming Federation (FFN) has for example expressed itself in this sense. In a press release, published on Saturday March 21, she asked “To study transparently the possibility of postponing the Olympic Games”.

Its president, Gilles Sezionale, has, in passing, criticized the policy of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF), which he accuses of maintaining “A firm position on the holding of the Olympics without even having the decency to want to discuss the option of postponement”.

Questionnaire to be completed before Tuesday

Behind the scenes, other federation presidents share this annoyance. According to a source high in the hierarchy of French sport, who explains it to World, they blame CNOSF for a certain reluctance. As if he wanted to avoid offending the IOC, which entrusted the organization of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Requested by The world, Denis Masseglia, the president of the CNOSF, says to himself “Very careful”. he merely declares that a press release should soon clarify the position of French sport. Not until Tuesday March 24, he suggests.

Read also Coronavirus: the IOC under pressure from several sports bodies to postpone the Games

According to our information, the Olympic federations of the country will have until that day, 8 am at the latest, to send to the CNOSF their answers to the questionnaire entitled “Covid-19 and the preparation of the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 ”, transmitted this weekend by the IOC to the various national Olympic committees before the meeting of its executive board on Tuesday.

Videoconference meetings are also planned at CNOSF level. All the presidents of the federations concerned will be divided into four working groups between now and Thursday. “We validated in the CNOSF executive office the day before yesterday evening [jeudi 19 mars] bringing all the federations to the same level of information “, specifies Eric Tanguy, one of the vice-presidents of the CNOSF, and also president of the French volleyball federation.

“Do not over communicate and add anxiety”

For the time being, on the form, the position taken by swimming is causing a stir. James Blateau, president of the French Gymnastics Federation, found it “Quite shocking and amazing” :

“I did not understand if Gilles Sezionale reacted more as president or as a pharmacist [sa profession]. The situation in the country is complicated enough, there is no controversy to be made. “

Some leaders call for caution. If he “Obviously respects the position of the FFN”, Jean-Lou Charon, treasurer of the CNOSF and president of the French Golf Federation, believes that the leaders of French swimming “Went a little fast and we have to take a step back” : “The weather is more like an inventory, federation by federation. “

Read also Coronavirus: French athletes in uncertainty for the Olympic Games

Same precaution on the part of Florent Chayet, president of the French Badminton Federation:

“From a sporting point of view, I can understand that a federation is saying it wishes to postpone the Games. If athletes cannot train under normal conditions, this would be a source of inequity. But we do not have to replace the authorities and explain what would be the best way to fight the epidemic. “

“I ask nothing, says Alain Bertholom, of the Wrestling Federation. I try not to over-communicate and not add anxiety to anxiety. The CNOSF is the interlocutor of the IOC. Each sport is different and specific. Of course, for a swimmer who cannot swim, it is complicated. But a wrestler who doesn’t have a sparring partner is not easy either. “

“Be reasonable and tell it like it is”

As much as the communication from the swimming federation leads to differences of opinion, as much, as a whole, all the presidents interviewed by The world say they are ready to consider the possibility of a postponement.

This is the case of the president of the French Athletics Federation, one of the most important among Olympic sports. “Many presidents today believe that a postponement is inevitable. You have to be reasonable and say it as it is, argues André Giraud. But it is true that the decision belongs to the IOC and that the CNOSF needs to coordinate all of its federations. “

Read also Faced with the coronavirus epidemic, the Japanese no longer believe it possible to hold the Olympic Games

For the boss of French athletics, it is worth considering “If the crisis is contained by the end of May, a postponement of the Games to the fall. But plan C would be postponed for six months or a year ” :

“The athletes are under stress and we need to reassure them. We can’t wait! I appeal to the CNOSF to act with the IOC. We need a united national position. “

“In principle, my executive office, which meets on Monday, will request a postponement”, explains André Martin, president of the French Boxing Federation, which was to host a world Olympic qualification tournament in May, which has been postponed until the end of June. “We will not have time materially to organize everything. We are no longer in the nails of Olympic preparation. “

Minister of health against sending athletes to Japan

While the IOC also consults at the level of its international federations, the situations facing this pandemic differ from one continent to another, sometimes from one country to another. “Maybe the postponement is the right decision but I think there are people in the IOC who have a better planetary vision. We, from France, are we in the best position to make these kinds of decisions and allow ourselves to have an opinion? “, tempers the boss of French volleyball, Eric Tanguy.

Despite the tensions, as of next week, the CNOSF intends to achieve “A unitary and structured approach to better express a position that is as representative as possible”, as he said in an email sent on Saturday to the presidents of federations and to which The world had access.

Meanwhile, Sunday noon, Olivier Véran, the Minister of Solidarity and Health, said what he thought the possibility of maintaining the Games on the initial date of July: “Do I intend to request the suspension of the Olympic Games? No. As a minister, would I like to send our athletes to participate? No “, he said during the broadcast of the “Grand Jury RTL-Le Figaro-LCI “.

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