Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah on tackling racism in sport, and his hopes for the Tokyo Games



Friday November 6, 2020
By Tania Bryer


Justin Kernoghan | PA Images via Getty Images

Sporting legend Mo Farah has told CNBC that racism in sport “shouldn’t be tolerated” and educating the next generation can help to tackle the issue.

The four-time Olympic champion long-distance runner, who left his home in war-torn Somalia and moved to the U.K. when he was 8 years old, said: “Sport is the only thing that brings people together.”

“It’s important for us to stand up and to continue to do the work we do and give people hope, and continue to change, and I think it is changing… but in everything, you will find challenges,” Farah said.

Speaking in the latest episode of CNBC’s “The Leadership League,” the internationally-acclaimed track star said it was important to teach his own four children about racism.
“It’s really important I’m honest with my kids and continue to educate them,” he said.
“For me, my kids have values… it doesn’t matter about color, it doesn’t matter about religion, it doesn’t matter about the color of their hair… just respect people and get on with them,” he added.

Tokyo Games

Farah, who won multiple World and European titles throughout his illustrious career, made Olympic history after winning gold medals in the 5,000m and 10,000m race events on his home turf at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

He went on to seal his Olympic legacy after achieving the “double double” — winning gold medals in the same two events four years later at the Rio 2016 Games.

The athletics superstar retired from track and field racing in 2017 to take on a new challenge of marathon running. But in 2019, Farah announced he would return to the track to defend his 10,000m title at the Tokyo Games.

The games are scheduled to take place from July 23 to Aug. 8 in 2021, after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, Japan allowed for its first 100% capacity crowd at a sporting event since the beginning of coronavirus restrictions. The event took place at its Yokohama stadium, which is due to be the Olympic venue for softball and baseball events.

The country is testing a number of different strategies and technologies that it hopes will ensure they can deliver a safe Olympic Games for both athletes and spectators.


Pace Setter Great Britain’s Mo Farah in action during the Men’s Elite Race during the Virgin Money London Marathon around St James’ Park. Adam Davy | PA Images via Getty Images

To date, more than 104,000 people have contracted the coronavirus in Japan, with 1,800 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Farah told CNBC he was “disappointed” when the Tokyo Games were postponed, but he believes they will go ahead, hopefully with spectators, next year.

“I think that the Olympics will happen and it’s something that I’m aiming for,” he said.

“It would be difficult without the crowd, that’s what gives me the boost, gives me energy, gives me belief, so we need the crowd, and… hopefully, we will have it,” he added.

Grassroots initiatives
Farah said that despite continuing to set records and winning the U.S. Chicago Marathon in 2018, he had missed competing on the track.

On his recent return to athletics at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels, Belgium in September, the 37-year-old set a world record for the one-hour run, completing 21,330 meters in an hour.

Farah, whose record-breaking career began through the support of his school sports teacher, Alan Watkinson, also told CNBC he is a big believer in grassroots initiatives.

The track champion says he has already completed his coaching license so that he can give back to his sport in the future.

“I’d like to be able to give back to the younger generation… I think myself and other athletes need to get involved and continue to encourage them,” he said.



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