IOC sets four-week deadline to decide on postponement of Tokyo Olympics

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The IOC have admitted for the first time postponement of Tokyo 2020 is under consideration ©Getty Images

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.

There is a lot of speculation going on whether Tokyo Olympics can be held on time or not. The time frame provided by the IOC follows mounting pressure from athletes and National Olympic Committees over the fate of the Games, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An IOC Executive Board meeting took place by teleconference today. A postponement has now been acknowledged openly for the first time. The IOC repeated that cancellation of the Games “is not on the agenda.”

The four week window is expected to allow the IOC and Tokyo 2020 the chance to study different options regarding a postponement of the Games. The IOC said the scenarios will involve either modifying existing operational plans, which would allow the go ahead on 24 July. Changes to the start date of the Games will also be considered.

IOC President Thomas Bach admitted for the first time earlier this week that alternative scenarios were being considered by the organisation.

Rescheduling can be a big problem too

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

IOC president statement

“A decision about a postponement today could not determine a new date for the Olympic Games because of the uncertain developments in both directions: an improvement, as we are seeing in a number of countries thanks to the severe measures being taken or a deteriorating situation in other countries,” Bach said in a letter to athletes.

“Contrary to other sports events, to postpone the Olympic Games is an extremely complex challenge. 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 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) and all stakeholders of the Olympic Games.

Four week deadline

“It is in light of the worldwide deteriorating situation, and in the spirit of our shared commitment to the Olympic Games, that the IOC Executive Board has today initiated the next step in our scenarios.

“Together with all the stakeholders, we have started detailed discussions today to complete our assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including a scenario of postponement.

“We are working very hard, and we are confident that we will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks.”

Japan has handed the situation very well

Bach claimed there had been “significant improvements” in Japan regarding the coronavirus outbreak. He said it strengthened the IOC’s confidence the Games could be organised “with certain safety restrictions” and ensuring the safeguarding of the health of everyone involved.

“Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games,” Bach wrote. The IOC wants to be part of the solution. Therefore we have made it our leading principle to safeguard the health of everyone involved, and to contribute to containing the virus.

“I wish, and we all are working for this, that the hope so many athletes, NOCs and IFs from all five continents have expressed will be fulfilled: that at the end of this dark tunnel we are all going through together, not knowing how long it is, the Olympic flame will be a light at the end of this tunnel.”

Think about loss to Japan before making any decision

The Athletes’ Village and hotels for the IOC, broadcasters and media have been tied down years in advance. In short, the IOC would have to ensure there could be an Olympic Games in 2021, before making any form of announcement on 2020.

There are the costs associated with carrying out such an unprecedented endeavour, from securing competition and training venues, to revising plans and running a large Organising Committee for an additional year.

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