The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are just four months away, and the International Olympic Committee addressed the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday, stating it will look at options to continue the Games, but canceling them altogether is not one of them.
The IOC on Sunday published a statement on its website that emphasized canceling the 2020 Summer Olympics would not resolve any issues.
“Cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda,” the IOC stated.
The Summer Olympics take place every four years in a host city, and it takes years of planning and preparation for the city and country to hold such a large-scale event. Then there are the participating countries, which schedule their national championships and world championships around the Olympic schedule.
The novel COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, was first discovered in Wuhan, China, and the virus quickly spread in China, then South Korea, other eastern Asian countries and eventually around the globe. Sports in America have come to a standstill because of the coronavirus, and just this week, the chief executives of USA Swimming and USA Track and Field have written letters to the USA’s national committee, each urging for them to lobby for postponing the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The IOC’s executive board met this weekend, and on Sunday stated they were “stepping up scenario-planning” for the Tokyo 2020 Games, which includes a possible postponement.
“These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games,” the IOC wrote on its website. “This step will allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan. It will serve as the basis for the best decision in the interest of the athletes and everyone else involved.
“On the one hand, there are significant improvements in Japan where the people are warmly welcoming the Olympic flame. This could strengthen the IOC’s confidence in the Japanese hosts that the IOC could, with certain safety restrictions, organise Olympic Games in the country whilst respecting its principle of safeguarding the health of everyone involved.
“On the other hand, there is a dramatic increase in cases and new outbreaks of COVID-19 in different countries on different continents. This led the EB to the conclusion that the IOC needs to take the next step in its scenario-planning.”
The IOC said a number of venues for the Tokyo Games could possibly not be available, and that international schedules for 33 worldwide events would have to be altered. Then there are millions of nights of hotel rooms already booked. Those would have to be changed as well.
“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),” the IOC said. “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.”
As of Sunday afternoon, there have been more than 340,000 coronavirus cases worldwide, with more than 14,500 deaths and 97,500 recoveries.
China has the most cases with 81,000, and Italy has the most deaths with 5,560, according to worldometer.com. The United States has 14,550 new cases, which is the most in the world.