Former JOA President Mike Fennell blasts 'irresponsible'


Former JOA President Mike Fennell blasts 'irresponsible'

Monday, January 25, 2021

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FORMER Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) President Mike Fennell has blasted a recent article in The Times newspaper which suggested that the Olympic Games, scheduled to be held between July and August this year, has been cancelled.

The article, which surfaced last Friday, was refuted by the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), both of whom gave assurances that everything was still being done to ensure a safe staging of the Games, despite the challenges being faced with a surge in COVID-19 cases in Japan.

Fennell, who was president of the JOA for 40 years, was scathing in his rebuff of the article which has set off alarm bells all over the sporting world.

“First of all, let me say that it was a very irresponsible projection and bit of journalism, very irresponsible. This has been refuted by the Japanese Government at the highest level, the Japanese Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.”

The current chairman of the board of Independence Park Limited (IPL) said that work is still being done to make adjustments in order to ensure the safety of all those expected to be a part of the Games, which were postponed from their original date last year.

“It has served to create some doubts in people's minds. Yes, there are still some problems with Tokyo, there are many concerns and – as has been released already – they are working assiduously on developing countermeasures, a toolbox. In other words [they are working on] what will have to change to make it safe, comfortable and [then] the Games can go on. They are spending a lot of time on that and, as it unfolds, we will hear more about it,” he assured.

Fennell admitted that the virus had created much uncertainty but insisted that plans are being developed to host the Games in a safe and secure environment.

“Nobody is in a position to predict with any certainty what's going to happen next because we are dealing with a pandemic that has caught us all unaware, every single country. But, we must equally plan to come out of it and to do things whilst ensuring that the safety and welfare of our people is assured.”

The lifelong sports administrator says that the staging of the Games will have a massive, positive global impact, whilst a cancellation would lead to a severe disruption of the international sporting calendar.

“This will do a lot; as you know a tremendous amount of money has already been spent without any benefits. You have a situation where if the Games were not held it would create a whole lot of disruption over the next three years, right through to 2024.”

Fennell suggested that the financial fallout from the cancellation of the Games would be enormous and long-lasting.

“A lot of people think about the athletes, which is right because it's the Games for the athletes, but there are a whole host of other supporting people that are also affected. There are the technical officials for the Games, there are the team officials; there are the advertisers, there are the sponsors; there are the various other officials and spectators and so on.

“So, it's not just the athletes alone; there is a whole range of things. And in terms of economic activity, it's a major, major event and if that were to be cancelled I think we would take a very long time to recover from that.”

The JOC has repeatedly given assurances that the Games will be held during the scheduled period of July 23-August 8 this year.

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