Olympic body mulls delay to Tokyo 2020 as pandemic escalates

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said yesterday it was mulling a delay to the Tokyo Olympics, due to start 24 July, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement came as the Canadian Olympic Committee said it would not be sending athletes to the games, and other countries’ national committees have also called for the tournament to be put off. 

Cancellation is not on the table, but a delay now is, the IOC said, reversing its earlier insistence the games would go ahead.

The IOC said it hoped to reach a decision within four weeks.

Tokyo Olympic officials have said around $12.6bn has been spent on stadiums and other preparations, although Japan’s National Audit Board calculates that the true cost is much higher, Associated Press reports. 

Construction on eight new, permanent venues for the games was declared complete two weeks ago. 

In its statement, the IOC said it would "step up its scenario-planning" in light of the dramatic increase in Covid-19 cases in many countries.

"A number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not be available anymore," it said. "The situations with millions of nights already booked in hotels is extremely difficult to handle, and the international sports calendar for at least 33 Olympic sports would have to be adapted. These are just a few of many, many more challenges."

Image: IOC President Thomas Bach making the statement on 22 March 2019 (IOC)

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