The postponement of the 2020 Japan Olympics due to the COVID-19 outbreak seems inevitable, according to Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). IOC president Thomas Bach states that the final decision will take up to four weeks to consider, with the IOC planning meetings with Japanese public authorities, global sports officials, broadcasters and sponsors for further discussions.
Shinzo Abe told parliament on 23 March 2020 that Japan is still committed to a “complete” Games but is not ruling out the possibility of postponement, with the health of athletes and staff given utmost priority. Both Abe and the IOC agree that cancelling the Olympics is not an option, with the former stating that it “would not solve any problem and would help nobody.”
On the other hand, Canada announced that it will not send its athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the coronavirus outbreak, but will only participate if the major event is postponed by a year. “We recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” read a statement released by the Canadian Olympic Committee on 22 March.
The IOC reported last week that about 4,700 of 11,000 spots in the Games have yet to be allocated. The committee, which holds the final say on the status of the 2020 Olympics, have been facing continuous pressure from athletes and sports associations from around the globe due to concerns of the COVID-19 crisis.