With the Tokyo Olympic Games set to take place on 24 July this year, the International Olympic Committee has set a deadline of four weeks to decide whether or not to cancel this year’s event, with Canada refusing to send their athletes to Tokyo due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
While facing massive pressure from National Olympic Committees from around the world, the IOC met on Sunday to discuss a potential postponement of the global sporting event.
“To safeguard the health of all involved and to contribute to the containment of COVID-19, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that the IOC will step up its scenario-planning for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” read an official statement from the Olympics’ website.
Meanwhile Canada has respectfully acknowledged the difficult situation that the IOC finds itself in, but its Olympic and Paralympic committees issued a joint statement of their own to announce their withdrawal from this year’s event regardless of the outcome of the IOC’s steps forward.
“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the committees said on Sunday. “This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health.”
Just last week, the Olympic organizers announce that they would not be taking any “drastic action” just yet, but as things have evolved from bad to worse, it seems that the games will inevitably be cancelled.
Japan’s Deputy Prime-Minister, Taro Aso, claimed that the 2020 games are “cursed” and that it’s an observable pattern, historically, that the Olympic Games get entwined in global affairs every 40 years. The 1940 games in Sapporo were cancelled as a result of the outbreak of World War II, while the USA and other Western nations boycotted the 1980 games in Moscow in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
“The Sapporo Winter Olympics, which should have happened in 1940, went away, the next Moscow games in 1980 was half blown away because of the boycott of Western countries,” Aso said to CNN. “Another 40 years makes it this year. The mass media would love this expression if I say it’s a cursed Olympics – but it’s a reality.”