The International Olympic Committee is stepping up its “scenario planning” for the Tokyo 2020 Games — including a possible postponement — as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, it said after an emergency meeting on Sunday.
The IOC will hold discussions that will include an option of putting back the July 24 start date or even moving the Games by a year or more due to the global coronavirus pandemic but said cancelling the Games would not solve problems or help anybody.
“Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda,” the IOC said in a statement, adding that the detailed discussions would be completed within the next four weeks.The Olympics has never been postponed or cancelled during peacetime but the IOC’s decision to even consider postponement was met with relief from several major stakeholders, including World Athletics, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and major national Olympic committees.
Under mounting pressure from athletes, federations and national Olympic committees to postpone the Games, the IOC did a partial U-turn on Sunday after long insisting, with Tokyo organisers, that the Games would go ahead as planned.
The IPC, whose Tokyo Paralympics are set for Aug. 25 to Sept. 6, said the IOC took the right decision under the circumstances.
“The next four weeks will provide time to see if the global health situation improves, while giving a window of opportunity to look into different scenarios should the dates of the Games need to be changed,” IPC President Andrew Parsons said.
World Athletics, the global governing body for the sport, said it was ready to work “with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date”.
More than 13,000 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak began and its epicentre is now in Europe.