THE Australian Olympic Committee says its athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the International Olympic Committee's announcement of a potential postponement of this year's Games - due to the changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe.
The AOC believes its athletes, including South Coast products like Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa), Owen Wright (Culburra Beach), Jonathan Goerlach (Nowra), Grace Stewart (Gerringong) and Kalindi Commerford (Mollymook) who were all expected to compete in Tokyo, now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them.
The AOC held an executive board meeting via teleconference on Monday and unanimously agreed that an Australian team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad.
AOC chief executive Matt Carroll says athletes have needed certainty - they wanted to do the right thing for themselves, their families and the world community.
"We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programs, Carroll said.
"With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation.
"The IOC had adopted the key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport.
"This decision reflects those principles.
"We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty."
"I would like to thank AOC athletes' commission chair Steve Hooker for his valuable contribution to discussions and over the last week, representing the views of our athletes."
Australian team chef de mission for Tokyo Ian Chesterman says he has communicated to athletes after receiving feedback from athletes from more than 25 sports last week.
"It's clear the Games can't be held in July," Chesterman said.
"Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them.
"They have also shouldered the burden of concern for their peers around the world.
"That has been a consistent message to me.
"While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control.
"We are aware that for many such a postponement will present a range of new issues.
"But when the world does come together at the Tokyo Olympic Games they can be a true celebration of sport and humanity."
Chesterman said there were numerous issues that flow from any postponement, from qualification through to logistics on the ground in Tokyo, but that these can be worked through in a timely way.
Other South Coast athletes in the mix for Olympic and Paralympic qualification this year included Jasmine Greenwood (Sussex Inlet), Shane Rose (Berry), Victoria Davies (Shoalhaven), Tom Connor (Berry), Tyler Wright (Culburra Beach) and Tim Atherton (Greenwell Point) - as well as Ryan siblings Will and Jaime.