2020 Olympics Likely Will Be Postponed Due to Coronavirus, Says IOC Member

With nations around the world dealing with the impact of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak, it was only a matter of time before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan were postponed. International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound spoke with USA Today and said that “postponement has been decided” for the Olympic Games, with the event moving “likely to 2021.”

While the IOC has yet to release an official statement about the postponement, Pound said officials are starting to work out the details and believes the “IOC will announce its next steps soon.”

“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know,” Pound said in the interview. [The new plans] will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

On Sunday, March 22, before Pound’s interview, Olympic officials announced that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would make a decision about postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics “at some point in the next four weeks.” In the meantime, they’d consult with Japanese public officials, global sports organizations, and broadcasters to talk about “scenario planning” for the Summer Games.

BREAKING: Veteran IOC member Dick Pound says the Tokyo Olympics are going to be postponed. My @usatoday exclusive: https://t.co/oRufavEEUZ

— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) March 23, 2020

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to run from July 24 to Aug. 9 this summer. As of now, the cancellation of the Games is “not under consideration” by the IOC, as it “would not solve any of the problems or help anybody.”

“The IOC is confident that it will have finalized these discussions within the next four weeks, and greatly appreciates the solidarity and partnership of the [national Olympic committees] and [international federations] in supporting the athletes and adapting Games planning,” the IOC said in a statement.

Previously, the IOC had been in a holding pattern by saying the Games would be going forward as planned while it monitored the issues related to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Many athletic organizations and nations around the world have been calling for the IOC to delay the games due to the outbreak, including USA Swimming and USA Track & Field, as well as Global Athlete, a group that represents Olympic hopefuls.

“As the world unites to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus, the IOC … must do the same,” Global Athlete said in a statement.

Some nations already announced that its athletes will not be attending the Games if they’re not postponed, including Canada, while others, like Brazil and Slovenia, have stated that the Olympics should be postponed. The Canadian Olympic Committee wrote in a statement that the decision was “not solely about athlete health — it is about public health… With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games. In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow,” the statement continued.

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