IOC Member Dick Pound Says Tokyo 2020 Games Will Be Postponed

TORONTO/TOKYO—The International Olympic Committee has decided to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games because of the CCP virus pandemic, IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today.

NTD refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Major sporting nations Australia and Canada had already withdrawn on Monday as organizers came under global pressure to postpone the event for the first time in the Olympics’ 124-year modern history.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound was quoted as saying by the U.S. newspaper. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound
International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound, poses in his offices in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on Feb. 26, 2020. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

The report said the games, scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9, were likely to be held in 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks.

A postponement would be a massive blow for the host country, Japan, which has pumped in more than $12 billion of investment, and huge sums are also at stake for sponsors and broadcasters.

But a groundswell of concern from athletes—already struggling to train as gyms, stadiums and swimming pools close around the world—appears to be tipping the balance, along with the cancellation of other major sports events.

The IOC and the Japanese government have both edged back from weeks of blanket insistence the Games would go ahead, announcing a month-long consultation on scenarios including postponement.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program, said the WHO was feeding into deliberations over the Games, adding: “I believe a decision will be made very soon.”

An athlete lights the Olympic torch during the olympic flame handover ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, in Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Greece, on March 19, 2020. (Aris Messinis/Pool via Reuters)

‘Stress and Uncertainty’

The Olympics have never before been delayed, though they were canceled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the two world wars, and major Cold War boycotts disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984 respectively.

“The moment the IOC indicates that it is thinking about other solutions, it has already decided to delay the Games,” said French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia.

Canada and Australia both bluntly said they would not participate if the Games were not put back to 2021 and Britain may have followed suit. The Swiss Olympic Committee also called for a postponement, saying a fair, global Games was not currently possible.

“We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport,” said Canada’s Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee in a statement.

“Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty have been extremely challenging for them,” said Australia’s Olympics Chef de Mission, Ian Chesterman.

Paralympic athletes may be at particular risk from the epidemic as some have underlying health problems.

Russia urged global sporting authorities to avoid “panic” and U.S. President Donald Trump expressed confidence in Japan to make the “proper” call.

But a raft of other nations and sports bodies piled pressure on the IOC—and its German president Thomas Bach, a former Olympic fencing champion—to make a quick decision.

“The faster the decision, the better it is for the entire Olympic movement,” Greece’s Olympic head, Spyros Capralos, a former water polo player, told Reuters.

“I understand where the athletes are coming from,” he added. “When you cannot train, you are stressed, you live in agony, which is disastrous. Postponement is inevitable.”

By Steve Keating and Leika Kihara

NTD staff contributed to this report