Delay now imminent for Tokyo 2020

Published on March 23rd, 2020

(March 23, 2020) – Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports today that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said 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.”

Pound, a Canadian who has been one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades, said the Games will likely be moved to 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks. He said he expects the IOC to announce its next steps soon.

“It will come in stages,” said Pound, 78, the longest-serving IOC member. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

Neither the IOC nor the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee had announced a decision to postpone as of this afternoon.

When informed of Pound’s comments and asked for an IOC response, spokesman Mark Adams said, “It is the right of every IOC member to interpret the decision of the IOC executive board which was announced (yesterday).”

In that announcement, IOC president Thomas Bach indicated, for the first time, that postponing the Tokyo Games would be a possibility.

In a letter to the athlete community, he wrote that the IOC would begin exploring alternate ways to stage the Games, including postponement, and plan to reach a decision within the next four weeks. He emphasized that the IOC has ruled out canceling the Games, a stance that was reiterated by key Japanese officials – including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Representatives of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee did not immediately reply to an email from USA TODAY Sports seeking a response to Pound’s comments.

The Olympics would be the latest – and, by far, most significant – sporting event to date to fall victim to the coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December.

Also known as COVID-19, the disease rapidly spread throughout China and across the world in subsequent months, infecting hundreds of thousands of people and causing major disruptions to daily life in numerous countries.

Editor’s note: The pressure to postpone has been building as Canada declared they wouldn’t compete in 2020, Australia told its athletes they shouldn’t plan on 2020, while USA Track and Field, USA Swimming, the World Athletics federation, and the Olympic committees of Norway, Brazil, Slovenia, and Germany all have been campaigning for the delay.

TOKYO 2020 Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Olympic schedule: July 24 – Aug 9
Sailing schedule: July 26 – Aug 6

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