The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed, likely to next year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Dick Pound, a member of the International Olympic Committee, USA Today reports.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24th, that much I know.”
Pound did not offer any additional details but said he expected an official announcement and more specifics to come 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.”
Pound’s comments came one day after the IOC released a statement saying that its members would be meeting to discuss possible alternate plans for the Olympics, whether that meant moving back the start date to later this year or postponing. The IOC added that it planned to finalize its decision within the next four weeks.
To that end, a representative for the IOC responded to Pound by saying, “It is the right of every IOC member to interpret the decision of the IOC executive board, which was announced yesterday.”
The fate of the 2020 Olympics has been in peril for much of the year as the coronavirus has spread across the globe. While Japan has had more success containing the virus than other countries (as of publication, it’s recorded just more than 1,700 cases and only 48 deaths, per the The New York Times), the Olympics posed an obvious threat with so many athletes, media personnel, and fans from around the world traveling to Tokyo for the games.
In recent weeks, qualifying events for numerous Olympic sports have been called off over safety concerns. Additionally, the Olympic committees for several nations had recently started urging the IOC to reschedule, while just this past weekend both Australia and Canada announced that they would not be sending athletes to the 2020 games.