Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has spoken to the International Olympic Committee chairman Thomas Bach and asked that this summer’s Olympic Games be postponed until 2021.
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has a host of countries on lockdown as they struggle to control the killer virus.
That has led to the majority of major sporting events being postponed, which has included Olympic qualifiers and training sessions for athletes.
Canada and Australia have pulled out of this summer’s Games as they do not want to risk their stars’ health.
And Japan’s PM has discussed the potential postponement with the IOC chief over the phone and he has requested a 12-month delay.
Tokyo is still technically due to hold the event this summer but it is looking increasingly unlikely to happen.
The IOC’s released a statement yesterday where they claimed a decision will be made within the next four weeks.
A statement from Tokyo 2020 read: “While there are currently no regions in Japan where a widespread COVID-19 infection has been confirmed, qualifying events for the Tokyo 2020 Games have been disrupted worldwide by the spread of the infection in many countries.
“A number of athletes and National Olympic Committees have also stated that they are unable to continue training in this environment, and this unprecedented situation has been a cause of great concern to us.
“In light of this situation, Tokyo 2020 held an urgent video conference with IOC President Bach last night, during which we agreed to proceed with detailed discussions of different scenarios, including postponement of the Games, in full coordination with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Government of Japan, relevant Japanese authorities, international sport federations and National Olympic Committees.
“As the IOC has stated, due to the extreme complexity of the Games, a final decision has not been reached at this time, and discussions will be finalised within the next four weeks. Cancellation of the Tokyo 2020 Games is not on the agenda.
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“Our thoughts are with all those affected by this crisis, and we will continue to prioritise the safety of athletes, spectators and all other Games participants.
“As we closely monitor infection trends, we will dedicate ourselves to examining detailed plans for different scenarios, including opening the Games on 24 July, in accordance with the agreement reached yesterday with the IOC.
“We will continue to work closely with all relevant organisations in order to meet the expectations of the athletes who have been training day and night and the fans who have been looking forward to the Games for so long.
“As we seek to address this unique situation, close coordination with many partners, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Government of Japan, Tokyo 2020 marketing partners, broadcasters, suppliers and contractors, will be essential.
“We must be more united than ever in our response. Regardless, what is important now is that the world come together to overcome this crisis.
“As President Bach stated, ‘[we] wish that… the Olympic flame will be a light at the end of this tunnel.” We will therefore exert every possible effort to overcome this challenge and deliver the Games’.”
However, IOC member Dick Pound thinks the latest statement drops a huge hint that the event will be delayed.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told USA Today. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.
“It will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
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