Olympic postponement possible
The International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) will decide what to do about the Tokyo Games within the next four weeks, with postponement a possibility as the global COVID-19 pandemic worsens.
I.O.C. President Thomas Bach had previously insisted the Olympics would go ahead in July as scheduled, and that there was “no Plan B”.
The changed stance comes in the midst of criticism from athletes, after a meeting of the I.O.C. executive board on Monday.
A statement was then released by the Committee which said they are beginning discussions with the Games organising committee and Japanese authorities about potential scenarios.
“The I.O.C. is confident that it will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks, and greatly appreciates the solidarity and partnership of the National Olympic Committees and International Federations in supporting the athletes and adapting Games planning,” it read.
“This step will allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan. It will serve as the basis for the best decision in the interest of the athletes and everyone else involved.”
The statement noted the improving situation with COVID-19 in Japan, compared with outbreaks in other countries that would theoretically be sending delegations to the games, along with venue availability and changes to international sports calendars as issues to consider.
In an open letter penned to the world’s athletes, I.O.C. President Bach said public health is the first priority, along with helping to contain the virus.
“Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games,” he said.
“The IOC wants to be part of the solution.”
Samoa currently have five athletes qualified to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, with more hoping to earn their places at qualifying tournaments over the coming months.
A lot of those tournaments have been postponed to closer to July already, and this latest development only casts further doubt over what an Olympic Games in July would look like if it can go ahead at all.