- The Corona Virus could cancel the Summer Olympics in Tokyo!
- Former Canadian swimmer Dick Pound, A senior member of the IOC has said that they would likely cancel the Olympics, rather than postponing or relocating the quadrennial event
- Pound estimates that the committee has a two to three month period to decide the fate of the games. which is scheduled to start on the 24th of July.
The Corona Virus could cancel the Summer Olympics in Tokyo! One of International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) senior member, Dick Pound, has confirmed that they would likely cancel the Olympics, rather than postponing or relocating the quadrennial event if the disease proves too dangerous for the event.
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) February 24, 2020
The Olympics is scheduled to start on the 24th of July, and the Paralympics will follow from 25th August 2020.
Former Canadian swimmer Dick Pound estimates that the committee has a two to three month period to decide the fate of the games. Pound has been on the IOC since 1978, making him among the longest-serving members.
“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?’” Pound said to the Associated Press.
With the games nearing, Pound added, “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.”
If the IOC decides the games cannot go forward as scheduled in Tokyo, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation”, he said while adding that the IOC is also relying on consultations with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Corona Virus & its effect on life & sports
The viral Coronavirus began in China’s Wuhan two months ago. The virus has infected over 80,000 and claimed the lives of at least 2,700 people globally. The Virus has now started to spread in South Korea, the Middle East and Europe; thus spreading fears of a pandemic. Japan has reported four deaths.
Many of Japan’s biggest names like Sony, Takeda Pharma and NTT telecom have even told their employees to work from home. The Coronavirus has started to affect various sporting events, both in Japan and around the world.
On Tuesday, three new cases were reported from a gym in Chiba. It is the same city which hosts Taekwondo, Fencing, Wrestling, Surfing and four Paralympic games in Summer.
Various events in and across Japan have been cancelled due to the virus. All of the J-league matches have been postponed until 15 March. The South Africa Under-23 team pulled out from their game against Japan. Training from 80,000 volunteers, which was due to begin last week, was postponed by 2 months.
Various local competitions, inter-school matches and martial arts tournaments have also been cancelled or postponed. The Tokyo Marathon, which is scheduled for Sunday, was supposed to feature at least 38,000 participants. However, it will feature only a few hundred elite athletes.
The Indian women hockey team had to cancel their friendly matches against China, causing a big hole in their schedule in preparations for the Olympics. The virus has also affected the famous European Club Manchester United. Their incoming loanee, Odion Ighalo, who signed from China in January, was forced to train separately due to fear of spreading of the virus.
But why is postponing or rescheduling not feasible?
Pound answers it perfectly. “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.’”
Furthermore, moving it to another city is unlikely as there are very few places in the world which can even think of pulling out an event like the Olympics in a short time. While London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey is open to London as the alternative; Tokyo Governor claims the offer is to use the virus for a political motive.
Pound further highlights why postponing by a year is a doubt. “You have to ask if you can hold the bubble together for an extra year,” Pound said. “Then, of course, you have to fit all of this into the entire international sports schedule.”
Athletes keep training- Pound’s message
Pound, however, is encouraging athletes to continue training. “As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo,” Pound said. “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.”
Notable, the Olympic games have only been cancelled during wartime till date. In 1940 and 1944, the Olympic games, scheduled in Tokyo and London, were cancelled due to World War II. The Rio Games, however, went on as per the schedule in 2016 despite the Zika virus outbreak .