Longtime International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound on Monday said the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, will be postponed due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
“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.”
Pound added, “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
While there has been speculation regarding the fate of the Olympics during the coronavirus pandemic, on Sunday postponement became more likely after Canada and Australia announced they would not send their countries’ teams to participate, citing the safety of their athletes.
“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees said in a joint statement.
“It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July,” Ian Chesterman, Australian Team Chef de Mission, said in comments reported by CNN. “Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them.”
Japan Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto had initially insisted the games would be held as planned. The country has succeeded in keeping its cases of Wuhan coronavirus at a low levels, with just 1,785 confirmed cases and 48 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the New York Times. In early February, Japan closed all public schools in the country to prevent the spread of the illness.