With the best of intentions, Antonio Barbarino in his recent interview to German newspaper, expressed his concern for the current situation with covid19, saying that he cannot imagine that the Olympic Games will open in Tokyo in a few months. “It doesn’t make sense anymore. In Germany, the gymnasium will be closed, and we will talk about the Olympics 2020” he mentioned.
The Treasurer of Taekwondo Europe has been also looking at Italy with concern for private reasons for weeks. The country from which his parents moved from Naples to Germany many years ago.
Barbarino stays in daily contact with his two daughters in northern Italy. One lives in Modena, the other near Milan, where she works in the 48,000-inhabitant city of Lodi as a nurse in the intensive care unit.
What Barbarino hears about his work from his daughter makes him “deeply concerned.”
“I see it with completely different eyes. Italy has been overwhelmed by the Corona virus. People, including younger people, sometimes die quite lonely. I hope that Germany is better prepared,” says the German with Italian roots.
The corona virus and its aftermath also concern Antonio Barbarino as President of the Taekwondo Union NRW and member of the Presidium of the Taekwondo Europe.
Two weeks ago, Barbarino was still a technical delegate for the World Association at the Sofia Open in Bulgaria. After that, the tournaments in Europe were canceled in rows, including the European championships in Zagreb in May or the World Technology Championships in Denmark.
Taekwondo Europe was still trying to save its continental qualification tournament for the Olympic Games to Milan in mid-April, but this competition also had to be canceled after the Russian government out for incoming athletes and officials Germany, France and Italy had ordered a two-week quarantine. There are no more alternatives. “We would have had problems everywhere,” says Antonio Barbarino.
For the European Taekwondo athletes, Moscow would have been the last chance for the time being to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. “Everyone else is through. South America was still lucky and the qualification at the weekend
able to carry out”, reports Barbarino. So far, only Stuttgart Bachmann from Stuttgart has qualified from Germany. In theory, qualification tournaments would still be possible until June. “But is that reasonable?”
Question of equal opportunities
Antonio Barbarino simply cannot imagine that in a few weeks hundreds of thousands of athletes, spectators and functionaries from all over the world panicked capital together – come as if nothing had happened. Also, for reasons of equal opportunities. “Our athletes cannot train. Schools and sports halls are closed. It is no longer fair. ”
The experienced taekwondo expert knows, of course, that the Olympic Games are a billion-dollar business, especially for the IOC. “The host pays for everything,” Barbarino emphasizes.
Nevertheless, Antonio Barbarino is convinced: “The Olympic Games will not take place as planned. That no longer makes sense, just like the European Football Championship. The risk is too high. I know how difficult it is for the athletes.” The Treasurer of Taekwondo Europe calls the announcement by IOC President Thomas Bach to adhere to the recommendations to the World Health Organization WHO as “reasonable” and stands his ground.
Interview by Martin Droste
Interview translated from HEIMATSPORT newspaper