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Tokyo Olympics 2020: IOC member says Games may be 'cancelled' if coronavirus outbreak is not under control in next few months

People with face masks walk ahead of an Olympic Games countdown setup
People with face masks walk ahead of an Olympic Games countdown setup
Modified 26 Feb 2020, 17:01 IST

What's the story?

The Tokyo Olympics is at the risk of getting canceled if the coronavirus situation keeps getting out of hand, a senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member has stated.

The background

Coronavirus infected more than 80,000 people on a global level and also resulted in over 2700 casualties, the majority of which have been in China. Four deaths have also been reported from Japan. 

As per official records, the Japanese government will be shelling out approximately $12.6 billion to conduct the Olympics in Tokyo. However, a national audit also revealed that the actual amount is roughly twice the alleged amount stated. 

The heart of the matter

Currently the longest-serving member of the IOC, Dick Pound, who is also a former swimming champion, stated that there is a two-three month period within which the fate of the Olympics would be decided. The Canadian told Associated Press:

"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? 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."
He further stated that if the IOC decides against going forward with the Olympic Games then "You’re probably looking at a cancellation."

The coronavirus is fast spreading and has even gained a strong foothold in the Middle East, Europe, and South Korea. The extreme situation has also given rise to fears of a pandemic.


However, for now, Dick Pound has encouraged the Olympic-bound athletes to continue with their preparations. Over 11,000 athletes from across the World are expected to take part in the Tokyo Olympics. The top IOC official stated:

"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."

While there was a Zika virus outbreak in 2016, the Rio Olympics were conducted as planned.

Speaking on the possibility of postponement of the Games, Pound added:

"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.’"

The IOC member also ruled out the possibility of shifting the venue for the Olympics as very few places in the World can even imaging of coming up facilities for an event the scale of the Olympics at such short notice. 

What's next?

The IOC will be consulting regularly with the World Health Organization (WHO) to arrive at a decision as soon as possible. 

Published 26 Feb 2020, 17:01 IST
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