Coronavirus: 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be canceled if the outbreak worsens, says IOC official

The Olympics is slated to open on June 24 in Tokyo but fear looms as Japan has 159 reported cases of infection


                            Coronavirus: 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be canceled if the outbreak worsens, says IOC official
(AP Photo/Jae C Hong)

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is more likely to get canceled than pushed or moved to a later date or place if the coronavirus outbreak takes a turn for the worse, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reported to have said. 

The Olympics is slated to open on June 24 in Tokyo. In Japan, 159 people are reported to have been infected, excluding those infected in the cruise ship named Diamond Princess. Five people are believed to be dead. Globally, there are at least 80,000 positive cases and the death toll has crossed 2,700.

According to Dick Pound, a former Canadian swimming champion who has been on the IOC since 1978, it could take two or three months to decide the fate of Tokyo Olympics. 

"In and around that time, I would say folks are going to have to ask: 'Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?'" he said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

A man walks in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building adorned with large banners promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

He added that the IOC will make its decision by the end of May. If the committee decides the games cannot go forward as scheduled in Tokyo, "you're probably looking at a cancellation", he said.

However, he added that this should not stop athletes from training for the Olympics. "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."

Besides, the WHO has not asked them to cancel the game just yet. "Certainly the advice we've received externally from the WHO (World Health Organization) is that there is no case for any contingency plans or canceling the games or moving the games," John Coates, head of an IOC inspection team, said to wrap up a two-day visit that was dominated by the virus issue.

Coates was positive that the game will be held on schedule. "We can confirm that Tokyo 2020 remains on track," Coates said.

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