A member of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics organizing committee’s executive board said that the games could likely be postponed one to two years if needed due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“I don’t think the Games could be canceled; it’d be a delay. The International Olympic Committee would be in trouble if there’s a cancellation. American TV rights alone provide them with a huge amount,” Haruyuki Takahashi, one of the executive board’s 25 members, told The Wall Street Journal.
“We’ll have to start talking about this seriously from April,” Takahashi added.
Takahashi said that a postponement would still have serious financial implications, as well as cause challenges with the international sporting schedule, keeping in mind the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Additionally, athletes would have to go through qualification all over again, which means some could lose their right to compete.
Meanwhile, the IOC and organizing committee have been insisting that the Summer Olympics will go on as planned.
“We made a decision and the decision is the Games go ahead,” Mark Adams, a spokesperson for the committee said at a press briefing last week.
“The Games are going ahead on the 24th of July and we completely expect to deliver them on that date,” he said. “All the advice we’ve been given is that that can go ahead, from the WHO and other organizations.”
While there is a lot of “worry” and “speculation” surrounding the coronavirus, Adams said, “We like to stick to the facts,” and reiterated that the World Health Organization said, “that these games can go ahead.”
“And indeed, they will go ahead,” he added.
IOC senior member Dick Pound previously warned in February that if the coronavirus continues to spread through late May, officials would likely cancel the Games rather than postpone or move them.
“This is the new war and you have to face it. In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo, or not?’” Pound told the Associated Press on Feb. 25.
The spread of coronavirus has already impacted international sporting events around the world.
FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation have decided to postpone the Asian World Cup qualifying matches set to take place in March and June. Other countries are barring fans from attending matches, Al Jazeera reported.
As of March 10, 116,166 people have been infected across 118 countries, with 4,088 cases resulting in death. In the United States, there have been 755 confirmed cases — the majority of which have been in New York, Washington state and California. As of Tuesday, 26 people have died from the disease in the U.S.
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