International Olympic Committee discussing postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Tanya Simon
March 23, 2020

A worldwide group representing Olympic hopefuls is calling on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until the coronavirus pandemic is under control - a decision the IOC says could be as much as four weeks away. The IOC is confident that it will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks, and greatly appreciates the solidarity and partnership of the NOCs and IFs in supporting the athletes and adapting Games planning.

However, the executive board insisted that "a cancellation of the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody". Sebastian Coe, the head of World Athletics, has also hinted that such a step may be inevitable.

"A decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly in the coming days and weeks", Sebastian Coe, president of the global track and field body World Athletics, said Saturday according to Reuters. Among the winners was Penny Oleksiak, who at 16-years old became Canada's youngest Olympic champion ever.

"If you delay and say this is what we're going to do, then it gives the athletes a chance to make a positive out of a negative".

"Restrictions now in place have removed the ability of athletes to compete on a level playing field and it simply does not seem appropriate to continue on the present course towards the Olympic Games in the current environment".

Toshiaki Endo, a vice president of the Tokyo Games organizing committee, said in response to Norway's request, "The organizing committee is not at the point where we need a decision on whether to cancel or postpone the games".

"I think I can feel with those among you who consider the situation to be unsatisfactory", Bach said.

In his letter to athletes penned after the Executive Board meeting, President Bach said that what he and they all shared is "tremendous uncertainty". The summit is expected to result in a united call for a delay.

Sunday's statement is the first one on the record from the International Olympic Committee affirming that the Olympics could be postponed - despite weeks of strong assurances that the Games would go forward as planned in July.

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The US and Spanish athletics federations have also asked for a postponement.

"We are making alternative plans - Plan B, C, D - looking at different postponement time-frames".

In the letter, Bach stated once more that safeguarding the health of everyone involved and contributing to contain the virus is the fundamental principle, and said: "Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games.

It will serve as the basis for the best decision in the interest of the athletes and everyone else involved", the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency also believes the Games should be postponed, CEO Travis Tygart told The Washington Post on Sunday.

In the United States almost one in three residents has been ordered to stay at home to slow the spread of the flu-like virus as cases nationwide topped 32,000, with more than 415 dead, according to a Reuters tally.

Bach had previously come under major criticism for refusing to publicly acknowledge the possibility of postponement, something he finally admitted was under consideration at the end of last week.

It is better to have a decision as early as possible on whether to postpone the Games, although the final decision is up to the International Olympic Committee, Mr Abe added.

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