In a statement to USA Today on Monday, Dick Pound, one of the veteran members of the International Olympic Committee, announced that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed because of the coronavirus.
“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24,” Pound told Christine Brennan of USA Today.
Pound added that the details surrounding the Tokyo Olympics will be “worked out” in the next four weeks and that the Games will likely be postponed to 2021. “It will come in stages … We will postpone this and begin to deal with the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
This news comes after both Canada and Australia had announced plans to withdraw from the games over fear that their players could contract COVID-19. Other organizations including the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and World Athletics also expressed desires for the Games’ postponement because of safety risks associated with large gatherings.
“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the Canadian Olympic Committee wrote in an official statement. “This is not solely about athlete health—it’s about public health.”
Over the weekend, IOC president Thomas Bach also ruled out canceling the Games altogether.
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