March 2020,

New Zealand’s Olympic Athletes Support Games Postponement

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

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said she welcomed the athlete feedback gathered in a New Zealand Athletes’ Commission survey this morning and thanked them 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 our athletes and sport. We reiterate the need for a swift decision.”

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

“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 CEO Fiona Allen said Paralympic athletes face a wide range of challenges and believed a postponement of the Paralympic Games would create a fair, and safe, playing field for the New Zealand Paralympic Team.

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

New Zealand Athlete Commission Chair-Elect 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 who would have like the games to occur as scheduled. We wholeheartedly thank each team member for the time they took to share their views with us.”

Smith said she thanked HPSNZ and Paralympics 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 the Chair represents the athlete voice on the NZOC Board.