Sport Year on from urging delay, Greece's Stefanidi supports Games in 2021 - Kyodo

04:25  25 january  2021
04:25  25 january  2021 Source:   reuters.com

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A year after calling for a Tokyo Olympics delay , women' s pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece believes the games should be held this Women' s pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi speaks in an online interview Jan. 23, 2021 . ( Kyodo ). The stance is a marked departure from the

23, 2021 . (Pool photo)( Kyodo ). The 20- year -old, who was out of action for 19 months after being diagnosed with the disease in February 2019, clocked 55.35 seconds to place fourth at the Kosuke Kitajima Cup, earning her the right to participate in Japan' s national championships in three months.

TOKYO (Reuters) - Gold medallist pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidi, a vocal proponent for postponing the Tokyo Games last year, is backing the Games to be held this July, with or without spectators.

World Athletics Championships - Doha 2019 © Reuters/IBRAHEEM AL OMARI World Athletics Championships - Doha 2019

Before the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government decided to postpone the Games last year due to fears over the coronavirus pandemic, Greece's Stefanidi accused organisers of risking athletes' safety and demanded a plan B.

Days later, organisers did postpone last year's Games, which are now set to begin on July 23.

However, Stefanidi told Kyodo News in an interview published on Sunday, that the Games should now go ahead.

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Bach, however, has ruled out another postponement or cancellation of the games , which the organizers decided last March to delay for a year due to the outbreak of the virus. "We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in

"I think that it's a very different situation than what we had last year, where we didn't really know anything about the virus," the reigning pole vault Olympic champion said.

"If we have to have the Olympics without spectators, I would prefer that than not having the games at all," she added.

"If we can have the Olympics with some spectators, that will be better, of course ... For me the worst case scenario would be to completely cancel."

Stefanidi, a member of World Athletics' Athletes' Commission, said she believed there had been a change of attitude amongst many of the 15,000 athletes preparing to compete in Tokyo.

Last year, she said that about 80 percent of World Athletics athletes surveyed supported either cancelling or postponing the Tokyo Olympics.

"But if we do this (survey) again, it will be reversed, then 80 percent of the athletes would want the Olympics to go ahead," she said.

A survey of the general public in Japan by the Japan Press Research Institute on Saturday showed that 38% of respondents said the Tokyo Games should be cancelled while 34% said the events should be postponed again.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Richard Pullin)

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