Bach invokes Trump in defense of Olympic decision

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Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), attends an interview after the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Denis Balibouse/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA

GENEVA – A day after officially postponing the Tokyo Olympics, IOC president Thomas Bach invoked comments by President Donald Trump to defend himself from criticism on Wednesday.

Bach spoke to about 400 reporters on a conference call and was quizzed why, despite growing concern from athletes, it took so long to postpone the Tokyo Games. He noted that many governments have imposed social limits only into next month and pointed to Trump’s hope of easing restrictions by mid-April.

“In the last couple of weeks the measures of many governments, they were limited until middle of April, some beginning of May,” the International Olympic Committee president said. “You have maybe seen the latest declarations there in the United States from President Trump about the prospect of middle of April there being able to lift many restrictions.”

Bach and the IOC faced mounting criticism last week from athletes, including Olympic gold medalists, for continuing to publicly support holding the Tokyo Games as scheduled from July 24-Aug. 9. The Canadian Olympic committee said before the decision it would not send a team to Tokyo in 2020.

Even Trump said on March 12 at the White House that the Olympics should be postponed for a year.

The IOC board’s eventual decision on Tuesday, with Japanese government agreement, to delay until 2021 came a day after the World Health Organization said the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating.

Bach was also asked by a reporter from his native Germany if he had thought of resigning because of the athletes’ criticism.