Tokyo Olympic games could be cancelled if coronavirus is not controlled

Charlotte Daly
Photo credit: d3sign - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games only 148 days away, the fate of the event is up in the air as the coronavirus begins to spread around the world.

Dick Pound, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer then organisers will more than likely cancel it.

A decision will be made in May, as sporting authorities plan to monitor the spread of the virus.

Right now, the virus has claimed more than 2,700 lives and infected more than 80,000 people in 41 countries and territories.

In an interview with the Press Association, Pound said: "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?’"

He continued: "A lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels. The media folks will be in there, building their studios."

If the IOC decides the games cannot go ahead as scheduled, Pound says, "you’re probably looking at a cancellation. You just don’t postpone something on the size and scale of the Olympics.

"There’s so many moving parts, so many countries and different seasons, and competitive seasons, and television seasons. You can’t just say, 'We’ll do it in October.’"

Pound went on to explain the relocation of the games would not be an option either as there "are few places in the world that could think of gearing up facilities in that short time to put something on".

Chiba, the city just north of Tokyo (which is scheduled to host Olympic taekwondo, fencing, wrestling and surfing, as well as four Paralympic events) has just had three new coronavirus cases confirmed.

Other sporting events in Japan have already been cancelled due to the outbreak.

The J-League has postponed all of its matches until 15 March and this weekend's Tokyo Marathon is being restricted to just elite runners.

The Olympic Games, which started in 1869, has only ever been cancelled in the event of War, with the 2016 Rio Games in Brazil going ahead as scheduled despite the outbreak of the Zika virus.

That being said, Pound encourages athletes to keep training as he says:

"As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo. All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation."

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