A longtime member of the International Olympic Committee said on Monday that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
An official announcement has not yet been issued, but Dick Pound said the event will likely be rescheduled for 2021.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told USA Today in an interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
Pound said the IOC governing body will convene in the coming weeks to determine how the 2020 Olympic games will move forward. “It will come in stages,” Pound said, adding, “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
Olympic committees in Canada and Australia confirmed on Sunday that they would not send athletes to compete in the Tokyo games due to the health risks posed by the pandemic. “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,” the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee said in a statement on Sunday.
“The athletes desperately want to go to the games,” said Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll on Monday, “but they also take onboard their own personal health.”
The Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to commence on July 24, would be the first Olympics to ever be postponed.
The IOC has faced increasing pressure to suspend the games as training schedules have been severely disrupted by the pandemic. Athletes and coaches have been unable to train—and many are mandated to stay home—as gyms, tracks, and public spaces have been forced to close around the globe.
On Sunday, IOC President Thomas Bach asserted that the games would not be canceled, but added, “Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the games. The IOC wants to be part of the solution. Therefore we have made it our leading principle to safeguard the health of everyone involved, and to contribute to containing the virus.”