Nepal | October 20, 2020

Tokyo 2020 Games will be postponed, says IOC member Dick Pound

Reuters
Share Now:
  • Canada and Australia pull out and demand postponement
  • Olympic body and Japan promise decision within month
  • Athletes worried about disrupted training, health risks
  • Billions of dollars’ investment, sponsorship, rights at stake
  • World Athletics willing to move 2021 world championships

TORONTO/TOKYO: The International Olympic Committee has decided to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games because of the coronavirus pandemic, IOC member Dick Pound said on Monday, as a window slowly began to open that would allow the showcase to be staged next year.

Major sporting nations Australia and Canada withdrew on Monday as organisers came under global pressure to postpone the event for the first time in its 124-year modern history.

Pound told Reuters that a one-year postponement looked like the best solution. This would mean the Games, scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9, are likely to be held in the summer of 2021.

“That’s my conclusion (there will be a postponement),” Pound said in a telephone interview, after Sunday’s IOC statement saying it was stepping up its “scenario planning” for the Tokyo 2020 Games — including a possible postponement.

“From reading IOC-speak in the communique, if you are going to cancel you simply cancel because there are no future plans,” added Pound.

“But if you are going to carry on with the original objective (to stage the Games) there is no reason to issue a statement because you have already done that over the past several weeks.”

Japan and the IOC have said calling off the Games entirely is not an option. But finding a new date could be complicated as the summer 2021 calendar is already crowded, while 2022 will see the soccer World Cup and the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Pound said a large number of stakeholders from the organising committee, to athletes to broadcasters and sporting federations would all need to be consulted before a plan could be finalised but there were early signs of a willingness to accommodate a 2021 Summer Games.

World Athletics said on Monday they would be willing to move their 2021 world championships scheduled for Aug. 6-15 in Eugene, Oregon to clear a path for a 2021 Olympics.

“World Athletics has already been in discussion with the Oregon 21 Organising Committee regarding the possibility the Olympic Games may move to next year and they in turn have held discussions with their key stakeholders and have reassured us they will work with all of their partners and stakeholders to ensure that Oregon is able to host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates should that prove necessary,” athletics’ global governing body said in a statement.

BALANCE TIPPING

An Olympics postponement would be a blow for host country Japan, which has pumped in more than $12 billion of investment, and huge sums are also at stake for sponsors and broadcasters.

But a groundswell of concern from athletes – already struggling to train as gyms, stadiums and swimming pools close around the world – appeared to be tipping the balance, along with the cancellation of other major sports events.

More than 337,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus worldwide and over 14,600 have died in a pandemic that the World Health Organisation said was accelerating.

The IOC and the Japanese government have both edged back from weeks of insistence that the Games would go ahead, announcing a month-long consultation.

The Olympics have never before been delayed, though they were cancelled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the two world wars, and major Cold War boycotts disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984 respectively.

“The moment the IOC indicates that it is thinking about other solutions, it has already decided to delay the Games,” said French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia.

Canada and Australia both bluntly said they would not participate if the Games were not put back to 2021 and Britain may have followed suit.

“We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport,” Canada’s Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.

A raft of other nations and sports bodies piled pressure on the IOC to make a quick decision.

Athletes were sad but broadly supported a delay.

“The right choice was made, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” said Canadian world champion swimmer Maggie MacNeil, who was hoping to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo.

“Sometimes you just need a good hug.”

THE TIDE TURNS

Japanese authorities seemed to be bowing to the inevitable, despite the losses and logistics headaches it would entail.

“We may have no option but to consider postponing,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was hoping for a boom in tourism and consumer spending, told parliament.

The organising committee is already scaling back the torch relay to avoid crowds, national broadcaster NHK said.

Japanese sponsors, from Toyota Motor Corp to Panasonic Corp, were watching nervously. But Tokyo stocks sensitive to the success of the Olympics surged on Monday, after sharp falls in prior weeks, thanks to expectations of a delay rather than a cancellation.

Ad agency Dentsu Group’s shares jumped 12%.

Pound told Reuters the IOC had tried to hold fire in order to be able to present the hosts, sports federations and sponsors with a clear alternative plan.

“Probably what turned the tide in the last couple of days is the curve on the COVID-19 virus. It is getting very, very steep now and this is clearly not something that is going to be under control by June or July and probably not by the end of the year.”


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Nepalaya releases Dr Sudha Sharma's memoir 'Singha Durbarko Ghumne Mech'

KATHMANDU: Nepalaya book publication house has released Dr Sudha Sharma's memoir 'Singha Durbarko Ghumne Mech'. Issuing a press statement, the publication house said, Nepal's Former President Dr Ram Baran Yadav unveiled the book amid special ceremony in Kathmandu, on Saturday. The book chr Read More...

Pakistan opposition holds mass rally calling for PM Khan to go

KARACHI: Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi on Sunday as part of a campaign to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan, who they accuse of being installed by the military in a rigged election two years ago. The mass demonstration in Karachi was Read More...

Israel, Bahrain sign deal establishing formal ties

JERUSALEM: Israel and Bahrain on Sunday agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations, making the small Gulf country the fourth Arab state to normalize ties with Israel. The U.S.-brokered agreement capped a one-day visit by a high-level delegation of American and Israeli officials to Bahrain. Read More...

Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool must sign defender to replace injured Van Dijk: Carragher

Liverpool centre back Virgil van Dijk's lengthy absence through a knee injury has opened up the Premier League title race and the champions must look to sign a replacement in the January transfer window, former defender Jamie Carragher said. Dutchman Van Dijk will have surgery for damaged lig Read More...

TVET for well-off career in Tourism and Hospitality

Travel & Tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sectors, supporting one in 10 jobs (330 million) worldwide, and generating 10.3% of global GDP. Over the past five years, one in four new jobs were created by the sector, making Travel & Tourism the best partner for governments to ge Read More...

Dreams of bereaved family shattered after death of ASI Govinda BK

DHANGADHI: The family members of police personnel who was killed in an ambush on Saturday night are still in a state of shock. Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) Govinda BK was killed in an ambush set up by smugglers on the night of October 17. He had taken the charge of police post based in Read More...

Department of Commerce collects Rs 7.8 million in fines

KATHMANDU: The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection (DCSCP) has collected revenue of over Rs 7.8 million in fines from businesspersons selling substandard goods and operating business illegally. The department had carried out a market monitoring in Kathmandu Valley from Sept Read More...

Public Service Commission halts all written exams until further notice

KATHMANDU: The Public Service Commission has decided to postpone all scheduled written examinations until further notice citing the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Issuing a notice, the PSC has stated that all written exams scheduled by the Commission from November 1 have been halted for the present Read More...