IOC gives itself four weeks to decide on Olympics postponement

Athletes, teams and federations calling for a delay to Games - due to start on July 24th

There is increasing pressure on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympics. Photograph: PA

There is increasing pressure on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympics. Photograph: PA

 

Under mounting pressure and demand the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have now conceded there will be an immediate review of the “scenario-planning” around the Tokyo Olympics this summer, while also insisting “cancellation is not on the agenda.”

With a postponement into later 2020 or more likely 2021 now increasingly inevitable, the IOC decision is expected within four weeks, not the late May deadline they had originally given itself even in the face of the ever-spreading coronavirus crisis. The Tokyo Games are still scheduled to open on July 24th, now just 123 days away.

A statement issued on Sunday evening outlined those steps, and in order “to safeguard the health of all involved and to contribute to the containment of Covid-19, the executive board of the IOC announced that the IOC will step up its scenario-planning for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

What happens for now?

“These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on July 24th 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games. 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 executive board to the conclusion that the IOC needs to take the next step in its scenario-planning.”

They added: “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 to 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 and national Olympic committees. It would also require commitment from, and collaboration with, the rights-holding broadcasters 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.

“It is in this spirit of the Olympic stakeholders’ shared commitment to the Olympic Games, and in light of the worldwide deteriorating situation, that the IOC executive board has initiated the next step in the IOC’s scenario-planning.

“The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo metropolitan government, start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement. The IOC is confident that it will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks, and greatly appreciates the solidarity and partnership in supporting the athletes and adapting Games planning.

“The IOC executive board emphasised that a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda.”

After the executive board meeting, IOC president Thomas Bach issued a letter of his own to the global athlete community to provide them with an explanation of the IOC’s approach. In the letter, he also conceded that safeguarding the health of everyone involved and contributing to contain the virus is the fundamental principle, and said:

“Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games. 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.”

It follows reports earlier in the day that Tokyo 2020 organisers had already started drafting possible alternatives to holding the Olympics this summer, in contrast to the Japanese government’s stance that postponement is not an option. Some organising were holding out hope for a delay of a month or 45 days.

The pressure and demand has been increasing from all sides, the global athlete group the latest to warn that “public health must be a priority over sporting events.” Irish karate champion Caradh O’Donovan is part of the start-up group who founded global athlete, the group calling on both the IOC and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until the coronavirus pandemic is under control, saying they have heard from hundreds of athletes who believe it is now necessary to “to place athlete safety and welfare first”.

The global athlete stance came a day after USA track and field, the governing body of American athletics called for a postponement, and USA swimming also asked for a one-year postponement as the impact of the lockdown began to hit home.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.