IOC and Tokyo 2020 holding postponement talks today
By Jonathan Rest
The International Olympic Committee is holding talks with the Japan government and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee today, with a postponement of this year's Olympic Games because of the coronavirus pandemic imminent.
The IOC said the discussions will focus on "the scenario planning including the postponement of the games" and will be "communicated in due course."
It was the first time the IOC had used the word 'postponement' in an official statement.
The IOC, Tokyo 2020 and the Japanese government have insisted the Olympic Games will not be cancelled altogether.
The IOC had announced it would undertake a month-long consultation before making a final decision on Tokyo 2020, but the situation escalated rapidly over the past 24 hours since the Canadian Olympic Committee broke from the script and announced it would boycott the Olympics if they took place as planned from 24 July to 9 August.
The Australian Olympic Committee then said it was preparing for an Olympics in 2021, and Great Britain was likely to follow suit after meetings planned for today.
Over night, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee strengthened its position having listened to feedback from athletes.
It said in a statement: “Even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner.”
The US' intervention is the most significant, given the fee paid by the Olympics' rights-holder in the country, NBC, accounts for more than half of the IOC’s total annual revenues.
Alfons Hörmann, president of Germany's DOSB, said the country would "prefer to move at least to next year," and also criticised the IOC's communcation on the issue.
He said: "We would already have liked to have given a clear statement that the games could definitely not take place on the scheduled date and that advice is now being given on possible alternatives. The public perception of the IOC and the entire sport is now being decisively shaped by how the next steps will be communicated openly and consistently implemented over the next four weeks."
Dick Pound, the veteran, outspoken IOC member from Canada, told USA Today in a interview yesterday that the decision had already been taken to delay the games to 2021, albeit Pound is no longer a member of the executive board.
Over the weekend, Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, wrote to his IOC counterpart Thomas Bach "to request that the games be moved." It was the first intervention from an Olympic sport.
World Athletics is due to stage its 2021 World Championships in Oregon, USA from 6 to 15 August, and the governing body said it would be willing to shift its event to accomodate a delayed Olympic Games.