Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports on Monday afternoon that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said in a phone interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
When informed of Pound's comments and asked for an IOC response, spokesman Mark Adams said, "It is the right of every IOC member to interpret the decision of the IOC executive board which was announced (last Sunday).
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday hinted at the possibility the Tokyo Olympics may have to be postponed, a day after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it will study various operational plans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto offered a further interpretation of Abe's words at a news conference. She said a "complete" event referred to holding the Games this summer as scheduled, with spectators present.
The premier, who has previously said he aims to hold the major sporting event in its "complete form," told a parliamentary session, "If it is difficult to hold the games in such a way, we have to decide to postpone it, giving top priority to (the health of the) athletes."
"Although the IOC will make a final decision (on the matter), we are of the same view that cancellation is not an option," Abe said.
The global coronavirus pandemic has cast a cloud over the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics from July 24 to Aug. 9 and the Paralympics from Aug. 25 to Sep. 6. In recent days, national Olympic committees in Brazil, Norway and the Netherlands have called for postponements.
IOC president Thomas Bach said last Sunday in an open letter to athletes that the IOC will "start detailed discussions" with the Tokyo 2020 and Japanese government to "complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement."
“We are working very hard, and we are confident that we will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks.”
Canada and Australia will not send athletes to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo because of the risks associated with the coronavirus outbreak. Both countries' Olympic committees also are calling for the Games to be postponed until 2021.
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), backed by their Athletes’ Commissions, National Sports Organizations and the Government of Canada, have made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020.
"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. This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health."
The Australian Olympic Committee's executive board met by teleconference Monday and unanimously agreed that an Australian Olympic team could not be assembled given the changing circumstances across the world, the committee said in a statement. The committee also said "our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families."
The IOC has faced increasing pressure to postpone the Games as people across the world have gotten sick and died from Covid-19. Tracks, gyms and public spaces are closed in much of the world and major qualifying events have been canceled.