USA Today reports that the Tokyo Games could be postponed until 2021, with Pound saying that he does not believe the Games will start on July 24, as the world continues to battle with the highly contagious Covid-19 virus.
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Sporting events across the globe have already been postponed indefinitely, with the IOC is coming under increasing pressure from numerous corners, including from competing athletes, to make a decision to postpone the Olympics.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said told USA Today. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
Canadian Pound, who was the first president of the World Anti-Doping Agency and one of the IOC’s longest serving members, added that the postponement “will come in stages” and following an announcement the IOC will “begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
On Sunday, IOC president Thomas Bach said the organisation would set a deadline of four weeks to make a decision on stopping the Olympics. An IOC spokesperson told USA Today on Pound’s comments: “It is the right of every IOC member to interpret the decision of the IOC executive board which was announced yesterday.”
The coronavirus pandemic has infected over 350,000 people worldwide as of today (March 23), with over 15,000 deaths. Many countries are restricting movement of their citizens or, in the case of Spain, France and Italy, on a full lockdown which limits people to leaving their homes only for food and medicine.
Though Japan itself has managed to better limit the spread of the virus compared to many countries, the major concern will be the arrival of thousands of people from around the world in the nation’s capital, with no vaccine and only limited testing available.
A number of National Olympic Committees have urged the IOC to postpone the Games, while Canada has said it will not send any athletes to Tokyo if the event is held in July.
In cycling, no events will take place until April 30 under the UCI’s ruling, though May’s Giro d’Italia has already been postponed because of the virus. The Tour de France is still set to go ahead, with organisers ASO yet to comment on the status of the race since the coronavirus outbreak.
The Olympic road race and time trials are set to take place between July 25 and July 29, while the track events are scheduled for August 3 to August 7.