Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. Photograph:( Getty )
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday told the parliament that postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics ‘may become inevitable’ if the COVID-19 pandemic makes it impossible to conduct the Games safely.
With the positive cases of the novel coronavirus rising with each passing day, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday told the parliament that postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics ‘may become inevitable’ if the COVID-19 pandemic makes it impossible to conduct the Games safely.
Abe said that Japan is still completely committed to a ‘complete’ Games while adding that postponement is inevitable considering the safety and welfare of athletes first. Abe in the parliament said: "if that becomes difficult, in light of considering athletes first, it may become inevitable that we make a decision to postpone."
Abe’s comments were his first agreeing to the possibility that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics may not go ahead as per the schedule on July 24 as the novel coronavirus continues to spread like a wildfire. Furthermore, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also tweaked their stance on the Tokyo Games as it said it would be stepping up planning for different scenarios, including postponement if the condition surrounding COVID-19 continues to deteriorate.
However, Abe echoed IOC chief Thomas Bach’s comments by saying “cancellation is not an option”. Earlier, Bach had said that cancelling the 2020 Tokyo Olympics "would not solve any problem and would help nobody".
The onus of any final call lies with the IOC, which has come under immense pressure from athletes and different sporting bodies worldwide as the novel coronavirus scare grows.
Athletics Australia completely supports the view of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and Paralympics Australia to postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games until July 2021. — Athletics Australia (@AthsAust) March 23, 2020
On Monday, Australia told its athletes to prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with expectation growing that the quadrennial event would eventually get postponed amid the pandemic. Furthermore, Canada became the first team to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics while urging a year’s postponement.
"This is not solely about athlete health -- it is about public health," the Canadian Olympic Committee said.