The longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee has said there is a risk that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics may be cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Dick Pound spoke to the Associated Press today and said they would make a decision by May. The interview and message wasn’t so much an imminent warning but a facing up the facts based on what we know right now.
Talking about if the IOC decided the games could be carried out as planned “…you’re probably looking at a cancellation”. He has said that a postponement or movement wouldn’t be likely and cancellation would be the safest thing to do. These are worrying words but are only in a worst case scenario.
This could mean that Sport Climbing’s debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could be postponed – meaning Paris 2024 would be Sport Climbing’s first time at the Olympics. That would also mean Speed Climbing would be separated from Bouldering and Lead for it’s debut.
The IOC are looking to the World Health Organization for their guidance. Pound also in a message to the 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes – “As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo. All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation.”
He is referencing here the possibility that the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak would become labelled as a pandemic. It hasn’t been yet, but the former Center for Disease Control director Tom Frieden has written an article for CNN saying the following : –
“Covid-19 will become a pandemic. We don’t yet know how severe it will be, nor do we know if the virus will spread to all continents, but it’s already spreading widely in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and elsewhere — and thousands of undetected and infectious patients have been and continue to travel around the world. This is unprecedented.”
The possibility of postponing was raised with Pound, but because of the unique nature of the Olympics as well as the schedule then affecting so many Sport’s schedules – the idea was put to bed. Having the games in different locations was also not something he liked – as it wouldn’t “constitute an Olympic Games. You’d end up with a series of world championships.”
Business Insider report that a candidate for mayor – Shaun Bailey – suggested that London once again could host instead. Japan have politely declined the offer. It also doesn’t seem like any other UK politician believes the UK could afford to host an Olympics with Brexit having just happened.
We will know more over the next few months as Pound said that a decision would have to be made by two months before at the very latest. The last time the Olympics were cancelled were in World War II.