People wait in line to take pictures with the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
People wait in line to take pictures with the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tokyo Olympics could be cancelled

A senior member of the International Olympic Committee says if it's too dangerous to hold the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus, the event could be cancelled rather than postponed.

Canadian official Dick Pound, who has been on the IOC since 1978, estimated there is a three-month window - or even two months - to decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics, meaning a decision could be put off until late May.

"In and around that time, I'd say folks are going to have to ask: 'Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?'," he said.

As the games draw near, he said: "A lot of things have to start happening. You've got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels. The media folks will be in there building their studios."

If the IOC decides the games cannot go forward as scheduled in Tokyo, "you're probably looking at a cancellation," he said.

The viral outbreak that began in China two months ago has infected more than 80,000 people globally and killed over 2700, the vast majority of them in China.

 

People wait in line to take pictures with the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Tokyo. Picture: AP/Jae C. Hong
People wait in line to take pictures with the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Tokyo. Picture: AP/Jae C. Hong

But the virus has gained a foothold in South Korea, the Middle East and Europe, raising fears of a pandemic.

Japan itself has reported four deaths.

Mr Pound encouraged athletes to keep training.

About 11,000 are expected for the Olympics, which open July 24, and 4400 are bound for the Paralympics, which open August 25.

"As far as we all know, you're going to be in Tokyo," Mr Pound said.

"All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation."

But as for the possibility of postponement, he said: "You just don't postpone something on the size and scale of the Olympics. There's so many moving parts, so many countries and different seasons, and competitive seasons, and television seasons. You can't just say, 'We'll do it in October'."

Mr Pound added the future of the Tokyo Games is largely out of the IOC's hands and depends on the course the virus takes.

Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said they were receiving advice and updates from both the IOC and the Tokyo Olympics organising committee.

He added they were also monitoring the training and preparation schedules of all Aussie athletes participating in the Games.

"Firstly, our foremost role is to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of Australian athletes," he told Sunrise.

"We're receiving advice from them (the IOC and the Tokyo Games organising committee), and also great advice from the federal government.

"The games are progressing and proceeding. There's no change to the preparation. There's no change to the dates."


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