The 10,000m world champion, Joshua Cheptegei, has said the decision to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games to 2021 is “wise”.
The Uganda star, who was hoping to crown his recent run of wins with gold in Tokyo, says it is a well thought-out decision which will ensure everyone stays healthy and safe.
The International Olympic Committee and Japanese government announced the decision to postpone on Tuesday.
“I know how athletes feel, it is sad but safety is paramount,” Cheptegei told BBC Sport Africa.
“I would say: what is fame, what is money without health? What is it?
“What is the essence of existence when you are not healthy? Life is more important.”
Having won both 5000m and 10,000m gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, last year the 23-year-old became the first Ugandan athlete to win the 10,000m world championship gold medal, the world cross country championship title, and the 5000m diamond league trophy.
And in February this year, he broke the 5km world record during Monaco Run when he clocked 12 minutes 51 seconds. This year he had set his sight primarily on the Olympics games.
“I would like to tell the whole world that this was the wise decision that it really works out for everyone – for the sponsors, for the athletes, for the fans,” he said.
In a joint statement, the organizers of Tokyo 2020 and the IOC said on Tuesday that: “The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.
“On Monday, the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the Covid-19 pandemic is “accelerating” with more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country.
“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
Cheptegei has urged the world to collaborate in fighting the pandemic. He notes the world needs to take global warming seriously.
“I feel that we need to take serious measures that can end the virus and we come out strong as the world. This calls for unity as the world, it calls for joint efforts, it calls for everyone to remain healthy and respect the guidelines given by several countries in regards.”
“In the same way we fear most about the virus, I think it is also good that we start treating our world well as global warming is yet another issue that needs global awareness.”