WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25
A decision on whether or not the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for late July, goes ahead because of the coronavirus, could be delayed until late May.
Games watchers are backing this scenario after a senior member of the International Olympic Committee said that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer because of the coronavirus outbreak, organisers are more likely to cancel it altogether than to postpone or move it.
Canadian official Dick Pound, who has been on the IOC since 1978, estimated there is a three-month window — perhaps a two-month one — to decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics, meaning a decision could be put off until late May.
“In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?”‘ he said.
As the Games draw near, he said, “a lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels. The media folks will be in there building their studios”.
If the IOC decides the Games cannot go forward as scheduled in Tokyo, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation,” he said.
The viral outbreak that began in China two months ago has infected more than 80,000 people globally and killed over 2,700, the vast majority of them in China.
But the virus has gained a foothold in South Korea, the Middle East and Europe, raising fears of a pandemic. Japan itself has reported four deaths.
Pound encouraged athletes to keep training. About 11,000 are expected for the Olympics, which are scheduled to open on July 24, and 4,400 are bound for the Paralympics, which open August 25.
“As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo,” Pound said.
“All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation.”
But as for the possibility of postponement, he said: “You just don’t postpone something on the size and scale of the Olympics. There’s so many moving parts, so many countries and different seasons, and competitive seasons, and television seasons. You can’t just say, ‘We’ll do it in October.'”
He also said moving to another city also seems unlikely “because there are few places in the world that could think of gearing-up facilities in that short time to put something on.”
Pound said he would not favour a scattering of Olympic events to other places around the world as “you’d end up with a series of world championships”.
He also said it would be extremely difficult to spread around the various sports over a 17-day period with only a few months’ notice.
He also cast doubt on the possibility of a one-year delay because of financial consequences for Japan and scheduling factors.
Pound added that the future of the Tokyo Games is largely out of the IOC’s hands and depends on the course the virus takes.
Meanwhile, Australian Sports Minister Richard Colbeck has said the country’s Olympians could be pulled out of this year’s games if it means their health is at risk.
“Australian athletes are ready to make their mark at the Tokyo Olympics — but it should not be at the risk of their health and wellbeing,” he told News Corp.
“We continue to work with the relevant authorities both here and overseas to ensure our athletes remain safe and protected as the response to the Coronavirus continues.”
Opera super star Placido Domingo has apologised to the women who have accused him of sexual harassment.
It came after an investigation by the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) found he had behaved inappropriately with female performers.
One of the most feted and powerful opera stars of the modern era, Domingo said in a statement he had spent several months reflecting on the allegations made by his musical colleagues.
“I respect that these women finally felt comfortable enough to speak out, and I want them to know that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused them,” he said.
More than three dozen singers, dancers, musicians, voice teachers and backstage staff have said they witnessed or experienced inappropriate behaviour by the 79-year-old Spanish singer towards women at different opera houses over the past three decades.
A former prosecutor was hired to investigate the complaints last September by the AGMA, the labour union that represents performers and producers in opera houses and concert halls across the United States.
The union, of which Domingo is a member, announced its findings on Tuesday (local time).
“The investigation concluded that Mr Domingo had, in fact, engaged in “inappropriate activity, ranging from flirtation to sexual advances, in and outside of the workplace,” the statement said.
“Many of the witnesses expressed fear of retaliation in the industry as their reason for not coming forward sooner.”
Domingo said in his statement he now understood the women’s fear.
“While that was never my intention, no one should ever be made to feel that way,” he said.
“I am committed to affecting positive change in the opera industry so that no-one else has to have that same experience.”
Its board of governors will take “appropriate action”, the union statement said.
Domingo had disputed the allegations when they were first reported, forcing him to sever ties with some of the foremost musical institutions in the United States.
Women said that Domingo, who is married, forced wet kisses on them, groped them and sought to pressure them into meeting him privately outside work for sex.
Victoria’s Education Minister says high school students are receiving sub-standard education about the holocaust, and will make learning about the atrocities of World War II compulsory for year 9 and 10 students.
James Merlino said all government secondary schools would be made to teach students about the holocaust, in which Nazi Germany killed more than 6 million Jews and members of other persecuted groups during World War II.
The holocaust is in the current Victorian curriculum but is not taught in all schools, and Mr Merlino said it was often not taught as well as it could be.
He also hoped better learning about the holocaust would help address racism and prejudice.
“Anti-Semitism is on the rise right around the globe and sadly we’re not immune from it in our own Victorian community,” Mr Merlino told the ABC.
“Most kids today wouldn’t be able to explain what the holocaust was and I think it’s vital that each generation understands the horror of the holocaust to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
The Government would work with the Victorian Jewish community and the Gandel Philanthropy fund to develop new teaching resources based on adaptations of existing resources from Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial and lesson plans produced by the World Holocaust Memorial Centre in Jerusalem.
Not-for-profit Courage to Care, which uses the holocaust to teach students about bystander behaviour, will receive government funding to establish an ethnic or religious vilification hotline for schools, students and parents.
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