President Trump comments on the state of the 2020 summer games in Tokyo at the White House.
The International Olympic Committee is facing strong criticism from members and athletes for continuing ahead with the Tokyo Games 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic with some calling the decision "insensitive" and "irresponsible".
Stefanidi, one of Greece's most prominent athletes, was scheduled to hand the ceremonial flame to Japanese officials before the Greek leg of the torch relay was scrapped over COVID-19.
"You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months".
As coronavirus continues to spread, the IOC said in a statement Tuesday that it is working with global federations to modify qualification procedures in several sports.
The virus has also wreaked havoc with Olympic qualification tournaments with athletes struggling to train, travel or compete and many pre-Games qualifiers canceled or postponed.
"It's unbelievable", said Stefanidi. It's unbelievable. What about team sports that have to train together? What about swimming? What about gymnastics, that they touch the same objects?
"There is zero consideration of the risk they are putting us in right now".
Among them is British heptathlon world champion Katerina Johnson-Thompson, who returned to the UK after training in France and also saw a training camp in the United States canceled. Despite having already qualified for the Olympics, she says its hard to approach the Games, "when everything has changed in the lead up apart from the ultimate deadline".
Doubts are increasingly being expressed about holding the Olympics on time, after the outbreak that first exploded in China spread to Asia and then worldwide, infecting nearly 200,000 people and killing 7,900. Athletes have been prevented from accessing training facilities because of virus-related lockdowns, while others have seen key competitions and qualifying events cancelled.
In 1980, the Moscow Olympics were boycotted by many Western countries as well as Japan, in protest against the invasion by the then-Soviet Union into Afghanistan the previous year, Aso said.
Canadian hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser, a member of the IOC's athletes commission, later wrote on Twitter that she was stunned by the latest development, adding it was "insensitive and irresponsible" to let the Tokyo Games go ahead. "The uncertainty of not knowing where you're going to train tomorrow, as facilities close and qualification events are cancelled all over the world would be awful if you've been training your whole life for this".
"In this context, the International Olympic Committee welcomes the support of the G7 leaders as expressed by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who said: 'I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics perfectly, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G-7 leaders." the release stated.
"Spanish National Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco also said he would "prefer for the games to be postponed", and there's a building feeling that a decision to delay the games should be taken and announced".