The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has advised the competing athletes to continue with their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics despite widespread suspicion that the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak will suspend or cancel the worldwide event which is scheduled to occur from July 24 to August 9.
Thomas Bach, IOC president, affirmed that his current position is to push through with the Games, in a meeting with the IOC’s executive board in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The spokesman for the IOC, Mark Adams, has released a clear statement, expressing the IOC’s strong stance that the Olympics will push through on its original schedule.
Japan has registered almost 1,000 COVID-19 cases, with 12 deaths.
The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has stated that, while he is confident that the virus will eventually be contained, it was difficult to predict when that will happen. Ghebreyesus said that WHO is coordinating with the IOC as well as the Japanese government to monitor the situation.
Wall Street Journal
IOC’s Dick Pound from Canada, has confirmed that a final call for the Olympics will be made by May 2020. Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman and Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) chief Matt Carrol are operating under the assumption that the Games will continue, and are preparing for a July 24 opening ceremony. Australian athletes continue to travel for qualifiers and international federation competitions.
Carroll has said that the ultimate decision whether athletes will take on the risk of going to the Games will reside in the athletes themselves. They will make the final call on whether they will attend.
Japan Committed to Original Schedule
In its entire history, the Olympics have been cancelled just three times, all during times of war. According to Japan’s Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, the IOC’s contract with Japan only gives the IOC the right to cancel the Games if the host country fails to hold them during the year—opening up the possibility for a postponement if needed.
Hashimoto has affirmed that the Japanese government is committed to their original schedule. In 1964, the Olympics were also held in Tokyo, but were conducted in October. The Games are now held during the summer, to accommodate sports broadcasters from all over the world.
Japan’s schools have been asked to close until April to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of its major sports events have been played without fans to prevent any further spread of the virus.