2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed because of coronavirus pandemic, IOC member says

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A group of students from Uruguay pose for a souvenir picture on the Olympic Rings set outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Saturday, March 21, 2020. The Olympic flame from Greece arrived in Japan Friday, even as the opening of the the Tokyo Games in four months is in doubt with more voices suggesting the games should to be postponed or canceled because of the worldwide virus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(CBS News) — The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will have to wait. According to USA Today, the Summer Games have become the latest major sporting event to be postponed/canceled as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak. International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today that the games will likely be pushed to 2021, and that a plan will be put in place on how to proceed in the next four weeks.

“On the basis of the information, the IOC has, the postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know… We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

This decision by the IOC comes just days after both Canada and Australia said they would not be sending athletes to the 2020 Games in Tokyo. There has been rising concern and debate over the start date of the 2020 Games over the past few months amid the coronavirus pandemic. With the CDC placing restrictions on large gatherings and the virus continuing to spread worldwide, speculation over a possible delay or outright cancellation of the Games had begun picking up steam in recent weeks. 

Organizers began planning for a potential delay in mid-March when the IOC released a statement saying they were looking into the scenario and conducting full assessments of the outbreak. 

“The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, start 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,” read the IOC’s statement. 

In addition to concerns about further spreading the bug, the coronavirus has caused major disruptions to athlete training regiments and preliminary qualifying events. The USA Track and Field and USA Swimming federations both called for the postponement of the Olympics, USA Swimming chief executive Tim Hinchey requested that the Olympics be pushed back one year in order to minimize risk and cater to the needs of the athletes involved. 

“As this global pandemic has grown, we have watched our athletes’ worlds be turned upside down and watched them struggle to find ways to continue to prepare and train — many for the biggest competitive opportunity of their lives,” wrote Hinchey. “Our world class swimmers are always willing to race anyone, anytime and anywhere; however, pressing forward amidst the global health crisis this summer is not the answer.”

A number of other major sports organizations have postponed their seasons amid concerns of the outbreak, including the NBA, NHL, MLS and MLBCBS News has the latest updates about the virus.

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