It’s not yet official, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reportedly about to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” IOC member Dick Pound is quoted saying in a USA Today article published online this afternoon (March 23). “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
Pound, who USA Today describes as “one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades”, said that the committee is working to limit negative ramifications, especially for the host city of Tokyo, Japan.
“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.”
Yesterday (March 22), Canada became the first country to publicly state that it would not send athletes to the 2020 Olympics if they begin as scheduled on July 24.
"This is not solely about athlete health—it is about public health," the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee said in a statement. "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.”
The two committees asked that the games be delayed by one year, to the summer of 2021.
The same day, IOC president Thomas Bach said the group was monitoring the coronavirus situation and had not yet made a decision on whether or not to postpone the games.
USA Today took Pound’s claim that the 2020 Olympics were going to be postponed to Bach, who neither confirmed nor denied the news.
"It is the right of every IOC member to interpret the decision of the IOC executive board which was announced yesterday,” Bach said.
There are only three dates in history when the modern Olympic Games was postponed or cancelled. Those years are 1916, 1940, and 1944 – all three on account of world wars.
The coronavirus has prompted unprecedented measures around the globe as governments attempt to contain the fallout.
As of March 23, there are 367,457 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. More than 100,000 of those are reported as ending with a full recovery. Meanwhile, 16,113 deaths are attributed to the virus.