US President Donald Trump has hinted that the final call on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be taken by Japan as the Covid-19 or coronavirus pandemic has engulfed the world. "We will be guided by the wishes of Prime Minister Abe of Japan, a great friend of the United States and a man who has done a magnificent job on the Olympic Venue, as to attending the Olympic Games in Japan. He will make the proper decision!" Trump tweeted.
Earlier, Abe had said that the health of the athletes is the priority while hinting at the postponement of the Tokyo Summer Games due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Tokyo Olympics is slated to be held from July 24 to August 9.
Re-organising Olympics a Herculean task: former IOC marketing head
Thomas Bach and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should not be criticised for procrastination over the Tokyo Olympics as re-organising them is "mind-bogglingly complex", the movement's former head of marketing Michael Payne told news agency AFP.
Payne, who in nearly two decades at the IOC was widely credited with transforming its brand and finances through sponsorship, said Monday the IOC could have unilaterally cancelled the Games because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Payne believes that was never an option given Bach's experience as a sportsman of missing out on the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to the boycott by Western nations in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Payne said behind the scenes the IOC have been moving towards a postponement for a while.
"It is mind-bogglingly complex to make a sudden change after seven years of preparation for the biggest sporting event in the world," he told news agency AFP in a phone interview.
"The IOC have been with increasing urgency looking to fall back on Plan B. The IOC remit allows them legally to cancel the Games unilaterally.
"Cancelling the Games though is not an option so to postpone the Games, you have to have your delivery partner (Japan) on board."
Payne said Japan would take its time to decide as until recently the local organisers had been enthusiastic about maintaining the Games in their scheduled slot.
Ready to shift 2021 world championship for Olympics: World Athletics
Track and field's global governing body World Athletics said that it is prepared to shift the world championships in 2021 in order to accommodate a potential move of this year's coronavirus-threatened Tokyo Olympic Games.
The world championships are scheduled to be held in Oregon on August 6-15 next year, but talks are under way now that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics may be moved over the Covid-19 pandemic.
"World Athletics welcomes discussions with the IOC to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and has written to the IOC (International Olympics Committee) to share this feedback from the sport," track and field's global governing body said in a statement.
"We stand ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date including dates in 2021."
World Athletics said it had already been in discussion with the Oregon 21 Organising Committee "regarding the possibility the Olympic Games may move to next year".
"They in turn have held discussions with their key stakeholders and have reassured us they will work with all of their partners and stakeholders to ensure that Oregon is able to host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates should that prove necessary."
USA Gymnastics calls for Tokyo Olympics to be postponed
USA Gymnastics joined the growing number of sports federations calling for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be postponed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the federation said it was making the move after a survey found 62 per cent of its athletes who responded were in favor of delaying the Games now scheduled for July 24-August 9.
"After considering the responses from athletes who participated in our survey & the 62% who were in favor of delaying the Games, we are adding our voice to the chorus advocating for postponement," the federation said.
"We are grateful to have our athletes' insight and input to guide this decision."
USA Swimming and USA Track and Field had already urged the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to press the International Olympic Committee for a delay.