The Olympic Games will now be Tokyo 2021. Even as a formal announcement is awaited by the second fortnight of April, International Olympic Council member Dick Pound has confirmed that quadrennial Games will not take place this year due to the COVID-19 virus blast.
Tokyo 2020 will now be deferred to be Tokyo 2021.
As the COVID-19 worldwide has affected more than 3.75 people, resulting in more than 16,000 deaths, pressure was mounting on the IOC to defer the Games which are originally scheduled from July 24 to August 9.
British Olympic Association said Great Britain were also set to join Australia and Canada in the list of the nations to opt out of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told USA today. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on 24 July, that much I know.”
Pound had confirmed that the decision will be announced soon. “It will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
The IOC has already confessed that the it was planning for the postponement scenario, even as it had ruled out the cancellation of the Games. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe too had ruled out the possibility of the Games this Summer.
Meanwhile, Global Athlete group has also calls for Tokyo 2020 postponement, claiming the Games this year will now be “Neither feasible or desirable”.
World Athletics president Lord Coe has called for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo to be postponed.
In a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach, Coe says an Olympics in July 2020 is “neither feasible or desirable” because of the coronavirus crisis, BBC has reported.
In his letter to Bach, which followed a conference call between himself and area presidents of the Olympic federations, Briton Coe said: “No-one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but, as I have said publicly, we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety.
“A decision on the Olympic Games must become very obvious very quickly. I believe that time has come and we owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can.”
The letter has raised the following three vital points:
- Competition fairness: Every one of my area presidents believes that we can no longer expect a fair and level playing field in our sport given the number of athletes who are struggling to train in various countries due to measures put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
- Risk of injury: If athletes are unable to train properly now we both know, as we have both been there, they will push themselves even harder closer to an Olympic Games, which will increase the propensity for injury.
- Emotional wellbeing of athletes: The uncertainty of the Olympic Games happening in July and the inherent desire and motivation to excel that resides in all our athletes is causing real anguish that we can, collectively, put a stop to.
The IOC is yet to make a formal announcement on the status of the Tokyo 2020 Games, even though the world governing body and the hosts have confirmed that the task force will take four weeks to evaluate possibilities before a final call is taken on the Games.
It is confirmed though that there was neither an intent nor a chance that the Games could be cancelled altogether.
In his letter, the double Olympic 1500m champion listed three main reasons for delaying the 2020 Games:
The subject of athlete welfare was also highlighted by Japanese Olympic Committee president Yasuhiro Yamashita, who told reporters on Monday that too long of a delay to Tokyo 2020 would be a burden to athletes preparing for the games.
In his own letter, addressed to athletes and published on Sunday, Bach said the IOC is “in a dilemma” and “a final decision about the date of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now would still be premature”.
The German added that to postpone the Games “is an extremely complex challenge” and that a cancellation would “destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes”.
In terms of a postponement, Bach warned: “A number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not be available any more.
“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.”
UK Athletics, its US counterpart, and several national Olympic governing bodies have urged the IOC in recent days to delay the Games.