26 Jan 2021

Big decision looms for leading Kiwi athletes

12:17 pm on 26 January 2021

New Zealand Olympic Committee boss Kereyn Smith says they understand some New Zealand athletes may chose not to go to Tokyo, even if this year's Games go ahead.

NZOC CEO - Kereyn Smith.


Scheduled for July and August, the event was coming under an increasing large cloud as Japan continued to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The New Zealand delegation was expected to be around 450 people, including more than 200 athletes, and Smith said they would all have a decision to make.

"There's a lot of people who have to consider their position," the NZOC chief executive told RNZ.

"Can it fit into their life? Do they feel safe? Are their family comfortable that they should be doing that? Can they be away that long? Because we also have a period of time we need to be on the ground before the Games start.

"It's a big, big commitment."

That decision would only be necessary if the Tokyo Olympics went ahead as planned.

Reports out of Japan indicated the ongoing struggle with Covid-19 meant the event could be on the brink of cancellation.

The International Olympic Committee have refuted the claims and while Smith said they understood why there was speculation, the NZOC were moving forward as if the Games were definitely going ahead.

"We can't spend a lot of time thinking about cancellation because there's no real benefit to our athletes about that.

"Our job is to help athletes prepare for the Games, and those Games are on until they are not on.

"The only sources of communication that matter for us are from the Tokyo Organising Committee, the Japanese government and the IOC."