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IOC Member: 2020 Tokyo Olympics Could Be Canceled Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

By Donovan Wilkins

Contributing Writer | Telegraph Local

 

The 2020 Toyko Summer Olympics is in serious jeopardy. A senior member of the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer because of the coronavirus outbreak, organizers are more likely to cancel it altogether than to postpone or move it. The news was first reported by Associated Press.

Dick Pound, a former Canadian swimming champion who has been on the IOC since 1978, making him its longest-serving member, estimated there is a three-month window — perhaps a two-month one — to decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics, meaning a decision could be put off until late May. Pound spoke about the fate of the event in an Associated Press exclusive interview.

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“In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?’” Dick Pound said about the rumors around the event. As the games draw near, he said, “a lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels. The media folks will be in there building their studios.”

Pound doesn’t want the latest news from IOC to worry any of the athletes training. There is an estimated number of 11,000 athletes excepted to come. Many spend there lives training for this moment. The cancellation could impact many. “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.”

The summer 2020 Olympics is set to begin July 24. The modern Olympics, which date to 1896, have been canceled only during wartime. The Olympics in 1940 was supposed to be in Tokyo but were called off because of Japan’s war with China and World War II. The Rio Games in Brazil went on as scheduled in 2016 despite the outbreak of the Zika virus.

Somethin as big was the Olympics is not something that can be postponed. Pound said moving to another city also seems unlikely “because there are few places in the world that could think of gearing up facilities in that short time to put something on.”

London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has suggested the British capital as an alternative. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike suggested the offer was an attempt to use the virus for political purposes.

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Pound said he would not favor a scattering of Olympic events to other places around the world because that wouldn’t “constitute an Olympic Games. You’d end up with a series of world championships.” He also said it would be extremely difficult to spread around the various sports over a 17-day period with only a few months’ notice.

Pound said the IOC has been building up an emergency fund, reported to be about $1 billion, for unforeseen circumstances to help the IOC and the international sports federations that depend on income from the IOC. About 73% of the IOC’s $5.7 billion income in a four-year Olympic cycle comes from broadcast rights.

“It’s not an insurable risk, and it’s not one that can be attributed to one or the other of the parties,” he said. “So everybody takes their lumps. There would be a lack of revenue on the Olympic movement side.” Pound said the future of the Tokyo Games is largely out of the IOC’s hands and depends on the course the virus takes.

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