Longtime International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound says the Tokyo Summer Olympics will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. He is the first member of the all-powerful governing body to make the historic declaration.
In an interview with USA Today’s Christine Brennan, one of the most influential members of the IOC says the details about the postponement will be worked out in the near future.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” he said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
Pound’s proclamation comes less than 24 hours after IOC president Thomas Bach said his organization has set a four-week deadline on how to proceed with the summer games. He was adamant in saying the event would not be canceled outright.
“Cancellation of the Olympic Games would destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees, from the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, most likely for the Paralympic athletes, and for all the people who are supporting you as coaches, doctors, officials, training partners, friends and family,” Bach wrote in a statement. “Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody. Therefore it is not on our agenda.”
While Pound didn’t give Brennan a definite date, he said the Tokyo Olympics would likely be rescheduled for 2021.
“It will come in stages,” he explained. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
Last month, Pound was the first member of the IOC who said it may have to consider canceling the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games due to the coronavirus outbreak. At that point, the virus had infected 80,000 people globally and killed nearly 2,800.
Now, global cases have crossed the 350,000 threshold, with more than 16,000 of infected people passing away. The virus is impacting 195 countries and territories.
On Sunday night, Canada and Australia said they would not send athletes to this year’s games, citing public health concerns, prompting Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski to predict the seeming inevitable postponement.
The Olympics have never been suspended in their history. They 1916 Summer Games were canceled in 1916 due to World War 1, and the Summer and Winter Games were canceled in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II.