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News posted on Tuesday 24th March, 2020

New Zealand’s Olympic and Paralympic Athletes Support Olympic Games Postponement

New Zealand Para athletes support postponement

New Zealand Olympic and Paralympic Athletes have said they support a postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, an approach backed jointly by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Paralympics New Zealand and HPSNZ. 

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said she welcomed the feedback gathered in a New Zealand Athletes’ Commission survey this morning and thanked athletes for their input.

“Our focus is first and foremost the athletes, she said. “It has been important to us to give them the opportunity to talk to us.  We value their resilience and flexibility and we know working through the changes won’t be easy.“

“We support their position and will now share their views with the IOC as we advocate internationally on behalf of New Zealand athletes and sport. We reiterate the need for a swift decision.“

The sentiment has been supported by Paralympics New Zealand and HPSNZ.

“Providing carded athletes with high performance training and other HPSNZ facilities and services has become increasingly challenging,“ said HPSNZ CEO Michael Scott.

“The current Covid-19 environment is not conducive to the sense of fair play which underpins these pinnacle events, as the preparation of New Zealand’s athletes and others around the world is hampered to varying degrees.

“We fully support current steps to postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games This decision needs to be made quickly to provide the athletes, coaches and support staff with certainty, which will allow them to focus on their wellbeing at this critical time, while resetting and recalibrating for Tokyo.“

Paralympics New Zealand surveyed Para athletes this morning and also received overwhelming feedback.

Paralympics New Zealand CE Fiona Allan said “Paralympians and Para athletes believed a postponement of the Paralympic Games is the preferred option. This would create a fair, safe and level playing field for all nations especially given the severely hampered training environments.

“Our Para athletes and our wider organisation echo the support for a postponement,“ she said.

“Para athletes told us that an early decision is critical to best ensure the wellbeing of all athletes throughout New Zealand. It is imperative that this decision is made quickly to provide certainty.“

New Zealand Athlete Commission member Sarah Cowley-Ross said New Zealand athletes were adaptable and determined and she had every confidence they could meet the challenges ahead.

“New Zealand athletes have long prepared for a July 2020 Olympic Games however the Olympic Movement is founded on humanity and that, right now, must come first,“ she said.

“As the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, and on behalf of New Zealand’s Olympic athletes, we are asking the IOC to immediately confirm a postponement, using the following four weeks to clarify details.

“Each athlete has their own set of individual perspectives and challenges, and we acknowledge those who would have liked the games to occur as scheduled. We wholeheartedly thank all the athletes and their support staff for the time they took to share their views with us.“

Smith said she thanked HPSNZ and Paralympics New Zealand for their ongoing commitment. She acknowledged the value of the New Zealand high performance sporting system’s joint approach to support New Zealand Olympic sports and athletes.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission is made up of elected athlete representatives of Olympic and Commonwealth sports. It provides input and advice to the New Zealand Olympic Committee on all key decisions and represents the athlete voice on the NZOC Board.

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