Egan Bernal calls for Tokyo 2020 to be postponed as nations make a stand

Canada has withdrawn while Australia tells athletes to prepare for delayed Olympics

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Egan Bernal says the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should be postponed.

The reigning Tour de France champion, currently in isolation after returning home from a high-risk area in Europe, says the 2020 games should not be held on the planned dates in July and August.

Bernal’s words come as a number of nations have taken a clear stance, as uncertainty surrounds the Olympics because of coronavirus.

Canada have withdrawn from the 2020 games, while the Australian Olympic team has told its athletes to prepare for the games to be delayed until 2021.

Speaking during a virtual training session broadcast on Facebook, Team Ineos leader Bernal said: “At the present time, given the global situation linked to the coronavirus, I think that the Olympic Games should not be organised on the dates that were planned.

“Personally, I support a postponement of a few months to organise them next year. All we can do now is stay home to deal with the coronavirus, because this threat goes beyond the Tour de France or the Olympics.”

The 23-year-old announced last week that he had tested negative for coronavirus but would be isolating himself at home after he returned to Colombia from Monaco.

Canada has announced its athletes will not be competing in the Tokyo 2020 games if they go ahead this summer, urging the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the World Health Organisation to postpone the games until next year.

A statement from Team Canada said: “While we recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community.”

The Australian Olympic Committee has told its athletes to prepare for a Tokyo Olympics to be held next year instead.

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Chef de mission for the Australian team, Ian Chesterman, said: “It’s clear the games can’t be held in July. Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them.

“While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control.

“We are aware that for many such a postponement will present a range of new issues. But when the world does come together at the Tokyo Olympic Games they can be a true celebration of sport and humanity.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has admitted for the first time that the games could be postponed, while the International Olympic Committee is expected to make a decision in a month’s time.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.