The 2020 Summer Olympics were scheduled to take place in Tokyo from July 24 to August 9 this year; but due to Covid-19’s impact on the country, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recently announced that the Olympics could get cancelled altogether instead of being cancelled or relocated if the disease proves too dangerous.
Japan has reported 12 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total amount of domestic infections in the country to 159 (excluding those onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship). Because of this, several sporting events have already been called off in the country.
Some of the Olympic sports were set to take place in Chiba at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center, including taekwondo, wrestling, and fencing, where three new coronavirus cases have recently popped up. The training of 80,000 Olympics volunteers has already been delayed, although it was slated to start on February 22, 2020.
Last week, the South African Under-23 team also cancelled a game they were supposed to have in Kyoto, while Japan has postponed their all J-League football event to March 15. This event hasn’t been disrupted since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Although the Olympics have been around since 1896, they have only ever been cancelled during wartime. The 1940 Summer Olympics were originally set to be held in Tokyo from September 21 to October 6, 1940, but were rescheduled for Helsinki before being cancelled because of World War II. The Rio Games, on the other hand, still pushed through in Brazil in 2016 despite the Zika virus outbreak at the time.
For now, there is a three-month window to decide the fate of the Olympics. Dick Pound, former swimming champion from Canada and current member of the IOC, has shared that a decision will be made by late May 2020. In an interview with Associated Press, Pound says it will depend on whether everything is under sufficient control and if people will be confident enough to travel to Tokyo by then.
Pound also points out that a lot of preparation needs to be done beforehand in terms of security, food, and hotels. Should the IOC decide that the Olympics cannot move forward in Tokyo, they could get cancelled altogether.
According to Pound, moving the Olympics to another location at this time is highly unlikely since most places around the world would need more time to plan things out for an event of the Olympics’ size and scale.