The International Olympic Committee has stepped up its scenario planning for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games amid the world-wide Coronavirus pandemic, saying that cancellation is not on the agenda.
In a letter to athletes, IOC president Thomas Bach said that discussions with stakeholders regarding the scenario of postponement of the Olympics would be finalised within the next month. He said that contrary to other sports events, to postpone the Olympic Games is “an extremely complex challenge”.
“Cancellation of the Olympic Games would destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees, from the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, most likely for the Paralympic athletes, and for all the people who are supporting you as coaches, doctors, officials, training partners, friends, and family. Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody. Therefore it is not on our agenda,” Bach said.
“A decision about a postponement today could not determine a new date for the Olympic Games because of the uncertain developments in both directions: an improvement, as we are seeing in a number of countries thanks to the severe measures being taken or a deteriorating situation in other countries.”
The IOC’s scenario planning relates to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on July 24, and also for changes to the start date of the Games. “This step will allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan.”
The IOC pointed to the many challenges it faced, including several critical venues needed for the Games that could potentially not be available anymore. “The situation with millions of nights already booked in hotels is extremely difficult to handle, and the international sports calendar for at least 33 Olympic sports would have to be adapted. These are just a few of many, many more challenges.”
Bach stressed that 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.
“I wish, and we all are working for this, that the hope so many athletes, NOCs and IFs from all five continents have expressed will be fulfilled: that at the end of this dark tunnel we are all going through together, not knowing how long it is, the Olympic flame will be a light at the end of this tunnel.”