UPDATED, 11:06 AM: A veteran member of the International Olympic Committee told USA Today this morning that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed, likely to 2021. Dick Pound told the paper that the details to be worked out during the next month.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told the paper in a phone interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
PREVIOUSLY, 5:24 AM: As Canada and Australia pull out of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games set for Toyko, Japan, the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe has conceded that the event is increasingly likely to face suspension as the coronavirus crisis stretches on. The Tokyo Olympics were due to begin July 24, but Abe told the Upper House Budget Committee in Japan Monday that the current situation “isn’t adequate” to allow the Games to proceed on schedule.
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“I don’t think the world will be ready considering the spread of the novel coronavirus infection,” Abe said. Earlier this month, Japan’s Olympic minister had hoped Tokyo’s contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would allow for a simple postponement of the Games, and organizers had been working up several alternative plans, buoyed by the relatively limited impact of Coronavirus in Japan as compared against other nations.
But Abe also told the house he thought it was important that all participating Olympic countries be able to participate in the Games. And with training schedules and qualification events ripped up in countries all around the world, Canada and Australia became the first to withdraw their athletes from the Games entirely.
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” Team Canada said in a statement. The Australian Olympic Committee briefed its athletes to prepare for Olympics competition in 2021 instead.
Following Prime Minister Abe’s comments, the U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the American response would be “guided by the wishes” of the Japanese premier. Abe was, Trump said, “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.”
Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.
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