The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed, probably until 2021, Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today Sports Monday. Further details were not immediately provided, though Pound told the publication more information would be known within four weeks.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, the postponement has been decided. 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 a phone interview.
The next steps, which will likely come in stages, will be revealed soon. “It will come in stages,” he said. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
The Olympics were originally slated to take place starting July 24. While the games will be postponed, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Sunday he did not want to cancel the games.
Canceling The Olympics Is Not An Option
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan knew the Games couldn’t take place as scheduled but did not want to call them off completely. “I couldn’t think of cancellation,” Abe told members of Parliament, according to the New York Times. He noted, however, that things may not go as planned, saying, “I think we may not have a choice but to make a decision to postpone, putting a priority on athletes.”
The day before the Games were officially postponed, the IOC also hinted the games would likely be delayed. In a statement on March 22, the IOC said in part,
A number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not be available anymore. The situations with millions of nights already booked in hotels is extremely difficult to handle, and the international sports calendar for at least 33 Olympic sports would have to be adapted. These are just a few of many, many more challenges.
Therefore, further to the study of different scenarios, it would need the full commitment and cooperation of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Japanese authorities, and of all the International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs). It would also require commitment from, and collaboration with, the Rights-Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) and our TOP Partner sponsors, as part of their continued and valued support to the Olympic Movement, as well as cooperation from all the Games’ partners, suppliers and contractors. It is in this spirit of the Olympic stakeholders’ shared commitment to the Olympic Games, and in light of the worldwide deteriorating situation, that the IOC EB has today initiated the next step in the IOC’s scenario-planning.
Athletes Pulled Out
Hours before Pound confirmed the games would be delayed, countries like Canada and Australia revealed they would not send their athletes to Tokyo for the summer Olympics.
Sebastian Coe, the head of track and field who won four Olympic medals as a middle-distance runner, wrote to the IOC it was not “feasible nor desirable” to go forward with the Summer Games.
“No one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed, but as I have said publicly, we cannot host the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, and a decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly,” Coe wrote, as noted by the Times.
“I believe that time has come and we owe to our athletes to give them respite where we can. And in this matter, I believe we can,” he added.