1) Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hinted that the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed, according to multiple local media reports on Monday.
2)That comes a day after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it is stepping up its scenario-planning for the event.
3)Meanwhile, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) announced Sunday that it will not be sending teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games this year
Whether Japan can hold the Tokyo Games as planned from July 24 has been a major international concern as the COVID-19 outbreak has spread globally. Japan has been under tremendous pressure to delay or cancel the Games which are slated to kick off on July 24 in Tokyo.
Postponing the Olympics over the coronavirus pandemic may become “inevitable”, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conceded on 23 March, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said a delay was being considered as pressure grows from athletes and sports bodies.
The comments from Abe were his first acknowledgement that the 2020 Games may not open as scheduled on 24 July, as the coronavirus marches across the globe causing unprecedented chaos.
“If it is difficult to hold the Games in such a way, we have to decide to postpone it, giving top priority to the athletes,” Abe said, per CNN’s
Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic committees meanwhile announced they will not send teams to the Games if they are held this summer, citing the health of their athletes and the general public.
Australia’s Olympic Committee too told athletes to prepare for a Tokyo Olympics in the northern-hemisphere summer of 2021. “It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July,” Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman said.
For weeks, Japan and Olympic officials have held the line that preparations are moving ahead to hold the Games as scheduled, but there has been increasing pressure from sports federations and athletes whose training has been thrown into turmoil.
On 23 March, Abe told parliament that Japan was still committed to hosting a “complete” Games, but added: “If that becomes difficult, in light of considering athletes first, it may become inevitable that we make a decision to postpone.”
“Cancellation is not an option,” Abe said, echoing comments from IOC chief Thomas Bach, who ruled out scrapping the Games, saying it “would not solve any problem and would help nobody”.
The IOC has also shifted its position on the Games, issuing a statement on 22 March saying it was stepping up planning for different scenarios, including postponement. It said it would hold “detailed discussions” on the “worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement”.