The International Olympic Committee is stepping up its “scenario planning” for the Tokyo 2020 Games — including a possible postponement — as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, it said after an emergency meeting on Sunday.
The IOC will hold discussions that will include an option of putting back the July 24 start date or even moving the Games by a year or more due to the global coronavirus outbreak, but said cancelling the Games would not solve problems or help anybody
“Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda,” the IOC said in a statement, adding that the detailed discussions would be completed within the next four weeks.
The Olympics has never been postponed or cancelled during peacetime but the IOC’s decision to even consider postponement was met with relief from several major stakeholders, including World Athletics, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and major national Olympic committees.
Under mounting pressure from athletes, federations and national committees to postpone the Games, the IOC did a partial U-turn on Sunday after long insisting, with Tokyo organisers, that the Games would go ahead as planned.
The IPC, whose Tokyo Paralympics are set for Aug. 25 to Sept. 6, said the IOC took the right decision under the circumstances.
Opposition to holding the Games in July has risen sharply in the past 48 hours, with several major stakeholders such as U.S. Track and Field and UK Athletics along with several national Olympic committees, calling for a delay because of the pandemic.
They have raised several issues in the past week with the IOC, including athletes’ inability to prepare due to restrictions caused by the virus and their overall safety.
Regarding the next steps in scenario planning, the IOC statement said: “These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Game