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2020 Olympics pushed back due to coronavirus concerns

By Joe Tomlinson – Campus Talk Editor

On Monday, March 23, veteran member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, have been officially postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said in a phone 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 is renowned as one of the most influential people within the IOC, joining the organization in 1978 as the chief negotiator for television and sponsorship deals. He later sat on the IOC executive committee for 16 years, serving as vice president for eight of those years. 

“It will come in stages,” Pound told USA TODAY Sports. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

Neither the IOC nor the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee had announced a decision to postpone as of Monday, March 23.

Pound expressed his predictions for the IOC’s process to the media after a letter from the committee’s president Thomas Bach detailed the possibility of postponing the games. The president displayed concern about the safety of continuing Olympic activities as planned. However, Bach also stated that as of March 22, the IOC did not have enough information to make a definitive decision and that postponing the games at this juncture would be a rash decision. 

“Our basis of information today is that a final decision about the date of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now would still be premature,” Bach wrote. “Contrary to other sports events, to postpone the Olympic Games is an extremely complex challenge. Just to give you some examples: a number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not be available anymore. The situations 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.”

The letter followed weeks of deliberation over what to do in response to the pandemic. Over time, public pressure mounted and called for the postponement of the games because of growing health risks for all athletes, fans, personnel and staff that are essential to the Olympics. 

In the week before the president’s letter, several sport governing bodies and national athletic organizations had called on the IOC to take action and protect participants. According to, both USA Swimming and USA Track and Field called on the IOC to postpone the games for one year. Later, entire countries said they would pull out of the games, including Canada and Australia.

By the end of the week, the IOC more or less had to admit plans to begin the Games on schedule from July 24 to Aug. 9 were no longer tenable. 

On Tuesday, March 24, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to an agreement with the IOC to postpone the Olympic Games for a year.

An estimated 10,000 athletes were supposed to flock to Tokyo for the opening ceremony in July. Time Magazine reports that around 600,000 tourists and overseas visitors were expected to follow the athletes to Japan to observe the biggest sporting event in the world.

As a result of a growing worldwide infected populace, international events like the Olympics are no longer safe. Consequently, the Games have been postponed and the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics seems more and more likely.

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