The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were expected to begin on July 24, but the COVID-19 pandemic might force the Games to be postponed. On Sunday, March 22, the International Olympic Committee announced that it was in the process of evaluating next steps.
The committee has begun “detailed discussions 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,” according to a statement. The final word on the fate of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is expected within four weeks.
And while “cancellation is not on the agenda,” pressures have been mounting to finalize plans. On Sunday, Olympic committees from Canada and Australia announced that they would no longer be sending athletes to participate if the Olympics proceed as scheduled in 2020 and are calling for the Games to be postponed.
The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee said that the decision to exit the Games is a matter of public health. In a statement, the committees said, “With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games. In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”
On Monday, March 23, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Japan’s Upper House Budget Committee (as per Deadline), “I don’t think the world will be ready considering the spread of the novel coronavirus infection,” casting further doubt as to whether the 2020 Olympics could proceed as originally planned in July.