2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed because of coronavirus pandemic


Update: Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports on Monday afternoon that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said in a phone interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

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Washington/Tokyo (dpa) – The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) on Monday called for the postponement of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics as the coronavirus has spread worldwide rapidly.

“It’s more clear [sic] than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising, and we encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors,” USOPC chair Susanne Lyons and chief executive Sarah Hirshland said in a statement, referring to the International Olympic Committee.

The statement comes after a new USOPC survey showed 68 per cent of the 1,780 athletes polled said they do not think the Games would be fair if they were held in July 2020, citing massive training disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 65 per cent said their training had been impacted, and 25 per cent said they cannot train at all, faced with closures of gyms and pools.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier on Monday said he does not believe the Olympics can be held under current circumstances after the IOC admitted it was considering postponing the Games due to the coronavirus crisis.

“If I’m asked whether the Olympics can be held at this moment, I would have to say the world is not in such a condition,” Abe told a parliamentary session.

Abe will hold talks with IOC president Thomas Bach on Tuesday over plans to postpone the Games, Kyodo News reported, citing an unnamed Japanese government official.

The final decision however will be made by the IOC, the city of Tokyo and the Japanese Olympic Committee, the three parties who signed the host city contract when Tokyo landed the Games in 2013.

The premier is expected to tell Bach that if the games are postponed, the delay should last less than one year, the report said.

The premier said on Monday that cancellation is not on the agenda, echoing the line taken by the IOC.

Canada became the first nation to say it would not take part in the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic if the Games were to run as scheduled from July 24 to August 9. The Paralympic Games are set to be held from August 25 to September 6.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee on Sunday urgently called for the Games to be postponed by one year.

The Australian Olympic Committee told its athletes on Monday to prepare for Olympics in the summer of 2021, saying a team cannot be assembled now.

There have also been widespread calls for postponement from leading figures in the influential US along with Britain, Australia and others.

“No-one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but as I have said publicly, we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, and a decision on the Olympic Games must become very obvious very quickly,” two-time Olympic champion and World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe wrote to Bach in a widely circulated letter.

Veteran IOC member Dick Pound was quoted by USA Today as saying a postponement has already been decided.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told the newspaper. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

The 77-year-old Canadian and former IOC vice president said he believed the IOC would announce its next steps soon.

“It will come in stages,” he was quoted as saying. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB) president Alfons Hoermann meanwhile welcomed the IOC’s move but said “we would have wished now for a clear statement that the Games definitely cannot take place on the planned dates and now advice is being taken on alternatives.”

US President Donald Trump meanwhile said Washington would follow the decision made by Abe on the fate of the Tokyo Games.

“We will be guided by the wishes of Prime Minister Abe of Japan, a great friend of the United States and a man who has done a magnificent job on the Olympic Venue, as to attending the Olympic Games in Japan,” Trump said in a tweet.

Only global conflict has previously caused complete cancellation of the Olympics, in 1916 due to World War I, and in 1940 and 1944 during World War II.

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