The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is postponing the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, The Straits Times reported, quoting IOC member Dick Pound. According to Pound, the postponement "looked like the best solution" and the Games are reportedly scheduled for 24 July to 9 August next year.
While the Games have been postponed, a plan for the event to be held in 2021 has yet to be finalised. According to Pound, "a large number of stakeholders", including those from the organising committee, athletes, as well as broadcasters, will have to be consulted before a plan is established, The Straits Times said.
The decision comes as organisers of the Games have been under pressure recently to postpone the event, after sporting leagues such as the NBA, PGA Tour and Formula 1 have either cancelled their season or races. Earlier this week multiple media reports including SCMP and the The Straits Times said that Australia and Canada have withdrawn from the Games due to the virus outbreak.
Mr Pound said a large number of stakeholders, from the organising committee and athletes to broadcasters and sporting federations, would all need to be consulted before a plan could be finalised, but there were early signs of a willingness to accommodate a 2021 Summer Games.
On 22 March, the IOC said in a press statement that it will step up its scenario-planning for the Olympics Games. The scenarios will 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 Games. The committee added then that on the one hand, there are significant improvements in Japan where the people are warmly welcoming the Olympic flame. This could strengthen the IOC’s confidence in the Japanese hosts that the Games could be held in the country, with certain safety restrictions, while respecting its principle of safeguarding the health of everyone involved.
On the other hand, there has been a dramatic increase in cases and new outbreaks of COVID-19 in different countries on different continents, which prodded the IOC to enhance its scenario-planning. The IOC added that it is confident the discussions will be finalised within the next four weeks, emphasising that the cancellation of the Games is not on the agenda.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic joins the list of global events that have been affected due to the COVID-19 situation. Earlier this month, The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said it will be postponing football matches for the upcoming Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Similarly, the Disney on Ice show has also been cancelled this year in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand markets.
Interactive media festival South by Southwest (SXSW) was also cancelled for the first time in 34 years, due to the growing COVID-19 cases worldwide, while Facebook cancelled its F8 Facebook Developer Conference. According to F8's official website, the physical event will be replaced with locally hosted events, videos and live-streamed content.