The fate of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be decided within four weeks, amid concerns surrounding the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, or Covid-19. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Sunday said it would decide whether or not to postpone the Summer Games at some point in the next four weeks. However, it added that cancelling the Games altogether was "not on the agenda”.
Globally, more than 337,553 people have contracted the novel coronavirus and at least 14,654 have died so far.
IOC has been under an enormous pressure to take a call on Tokyo Olympics as numerous athletic organizations, sporting federations and athletes around the world have been calling to postpone the Games — scheduled from July 24 to August 9.
Following the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games are scheduled to be held in the Japanese capital from August 25 to September 9, yet clearly they may be postponed if the Olympics themselves are set back.
"Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games ... We have, as indicated before, been thinking in different scenarios and are adapting them almost day by day," IOC president Thomas Bach wrote to athletes around the world in an open letter.
I know that this unprecedented situation leaves many of your questions open, he wrote.
I also know that this rational approach may not be in line with the emotions many of you have to go through.
A woman pauses for photos next to the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium in Tokyo. Photo: AP | PTIBut only hours after the announcement, World Athletics President Seb Coe sent a letter to Bach saying that holding the Olympics in July is neither feasible nor desirable. He outlined a number of reasons, including competitive fairness, the likelihood athletes would overtrain if given a compressed schedule and the uncertainty caused by orders in many countries barring people from gyms and other workout venues.
No one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but... we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, he wrote.
A decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly. But probably not sooner than next month.
The IOC said the scenarios under consideration relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on July 24, 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games. The change in strategy followed Bach's conference call with executive board members.
Bach has consistently said organizers are fully committed to opening the games on July 24 despite athlete training, qualifying events and games preparations being disrupted more and more by the virus outbreak causing the Covid-19 disease.