IOC must be given time to decide Tokyo Games' future, says Lange

SHOWS:

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (MARCH 20, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC SAILING CHAMPION, SANTIAGO LANGE, SAYING:

"I will give my full support. I wouldn't like to be in his shoes and the only thing as I said united, the whole world has to be united to fight this virus and we as an Olympic family have to be united, supportive, debate ideas as we have been doing in that meeting two or three days ago because we are all learning as it goes as the time passes and so it's not the moment to decide. It's a moment to be together and I think the only solution is to take the decision day by day and to cancel the Games we still have time."

2. WHITE FLASH

3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC SAILING CHAMPION, SANTIAGO LANGE, SAYING:

"First of all in terms of health I am absolutely sure that the Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee, the government of Japan or the organisation in Japan (TOCOG) plus the international health association, I don't know the right name in English, and our own country will not let the Olympics happen if there is any risk by any of the participants and any of the athletes or anyone involved in the Olympic Games going to Japan so in the sense of life I am absolutely sure for the Games to happen we all must be sure, all these associations will be 100% certain or 200% certain that nothing will happen to anyone involved."

4. WHITE FLASH

5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC SAILING CHAMPION, SANTIAGO LANGE, SAYING:

"It could happen that you cancel the Games now and suddenly now a... how do you say it... a solution to this problem in any way is happened (and) Japan is clean by now. I see this as a small percentage of possibility to happen but also, I guess if they cancel the Games, they need to have a plan B. They need to say when they are going to happen, how much they are going to be delayed and I am absolutely sure that to have a Plan B they need a lot of time. They need to coordinate with other big sports around the world with the television (Broadcasters), with the sponsors of all these big events so I think that coordination for sure cannot happen one day to another."

6. WHITE FLASH

7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLYMPIC SAILING CHAMPION, SANTIAGO LANGE, SAYING:

"As an Olympic family which I strongly believe I am part of, I have to put the Olympic values above my personal interests and what I am saying by that the Olympics are about peace between all the nations and support to each other and friendship and those values today are more important than a medal itself."

BARCELONA, SPAIN (NOVEMBER 8, 2016) (SUNSET+VINE - ACCESS ALL)

9. VARIOUS OF SANTIAGO LANGE OF ARGENTINA WINNING MALE SAILOR OF THE YEAR

10. LANGE WITH OTHER AWARD WINNERS, BRITAIN'S HANNAH MILLS (SHORT) AND SASKIA CLARK (TALL)


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FILE - AUGUST 16, 2016) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

11. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF LANGE RACING ALONG WITH TEAM MATE CECILIA CARRANZA IN THE 2016 RIO OLYMPIC GAMES IN THE FINAL OF THE MIXED MULTIHULL NACRA 17 RACE

12. TWO STILL PHOTOGRAPHS OF LANGE AND CARRANZA CELEBRATING AFTER WINNING THE GOLD MEDAL

13. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF LANGE AND CARRANZA WITH THEIR GOLD MEDALS ON THE PODIUM

STORY: Argentine sailor Santiago Lange said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) deserves more time to decide on potentially postponing the Tokyo Games but the well-being of athletes should be a top priority as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

On Sunday (March 22) the IOC said it would hold discussions that would include an option of putting back the July 24 start date or even moving the Games by a year or more due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

Canada and Australia have since stepped up pressure on the organisers by boycotting the Games.

"It's a moment to be together and I think the only solution is to take the decision day-by-day and to cancel the Games, we still have time," Lange, who is bidding for a seventh Olympic appearance, told Reuters.

"I'm absolutely sure that the International Olympic Committee, the government of Japan or organisation in Japan (TOCOG) plus the international health association (WHO) will not let the Olympics happen if there is any risk by any of the participants."

Lange, 58, came back from having a cancer operation to win an emotional gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics but even he could not remember a stranger buildup to the Games.

More than 14,600 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak began and its epicentre is now in Europe.

With opposition to holding the Games in July rising sharply over the last few days, the IOC said a decision on the Games' future will be made within the next four weeks.

Lange said there is a possibility the Games would go ahead as planned if the global health situation improves over the next four months but the IOC must prepare for every possibility.

"It could happen that you cancel the Games now and suddenly... a solution to this problem in any way is happened (and) Japan is clean by (July)," Lange added.

"I see this as a small percentage of possibility to happen but also, I guess if they cancel the Games, they need to have a plan B.

"They need to coordinate with other big sports around the world with the television (broadcasters), with the sponsors of all these big events. I think that coordination for sure cannot happen one day to another."

(Production: Tim Hart)