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Britain expected to refuse to go to Olympics ‘at time like this’

Britain is set to follow Australia and Canada in refusing to send a team to the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the British Olympic Association said on Tuesday.

Hugh Robertson said that with athletes unable to train together and fears the spread of the coronavirus will worsen in the coming weeks in Britain there was little chance of sending a team to Japan for the Games that are scheduled to start on July 24.

The BOA, the British Paralympic Association and funding body UK Sport are to hold a conference call later in the day with bosses from the summer Olympic and Paralympic sports where it is expected they will rubberstamp a call to delay the Games.

“I think it is very simple,” said Robertson. “If the virus continues as predicted by the Government, I don’t think there is any way we can send a team.”

Robertson is an expert in preparing a city for a Games having been Olympics Minister for the 2012 London Games.

He said the reasoning for postponing the Games was both practical and based on sensibilities.

“Firstly, I don’t see any way that the athletes and Team GB could be ready by then.

“Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.

“Second, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this.

“We can’t see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted at the moment and I expect we will be joining Canada and Australia shortly.”

Britain went into  lockdown late Monday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordering a three-week shutdown of “non-essential” shops and services and banning gatherings of more than two people.

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