Call off Olympics, says quadruple gold medalist Pinsent

FILE PHOTO: Rowing - 2018 Oxford University vs Cambridge University Boat Race Press Conference - Thames Rowing Club, London, Britain - March 22, 2018 Women's Boat Race Umpire Sir Matthew Pinsent during the press conference Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

(Reuters) - Four-time Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent has called for Tokyo 2020 to be called off, describing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as “tone deaf” for proceeding with the Games amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Pinsent’s comments reflect mounting concern from current and former athletes that the full-steam ahead approach by the IOC is inappropriate in the current global health crisis.

“I’m sorry Mr Bach but this is tone deaf,” Britain’s Pinsent tweeted on Wednesday, referring to IOC President Thomas Bach.

“The instinct to keep safe (not to mention obey government instructions to lock down) is not compatible with athlete training, travel and focus that a looming Olympics demands of athletes, spectators organizers etc. Keep them safe. Call it off.”

Pinsent, 49, won gold at four consecutive Olympics from 1992 until 2004.

The Olympics are scheduled to take place from July 24-Aug. 9.

The coronavirus outbreak has shredded the sporting calendar and has already started affecting some Olympic qualifying events.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis