Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today on Monday that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
The Games, which were scheduled to play out between July 24-Aug. 9, could be pushed back to as late as the summer of 2021.
An official announcement is not expected as of yet, but details of the postponement will be worked out over the next four weeks — a timeline originally planned to decipher whether or not the games would go on.
“It will come in stages,” Pound added. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
The Olympics’ postponement has come rapidly as the IOC and Tokyo officials said last week that there were no plans to alter the Games’ schedule. On Sunday, the four-week deadline to discuss the viability of the games happening this year was revealed.
Pound, a Canadian, saw his home country announce late Sunday night that they would not partake in the 2020 Games if they remained scheduled for this summer. Australia quickly followed suit — a move that other international sporting committees could have taken to save their athletes from being exposed to COVID-19.
Other notable countries like Brazil, Germany, and Norway also pled with the IOC to postpone the Games.
This will be the first time in the modern games’ history that the Olympics will be postponed. There have been three cancellations in 1916, 1940, and 1944 because of World Wars I and II.
The host country, Japan, has seen a steady, but drastic rise in the COVID-19 virus since the beginning of March. Their 254 confirmed cases on March 2 jumped to 1,089 as of Monday, per Statista.com.
Originating in China, the virus has infected over 370,000 people worldwide and has killed over 16,000.
Had the Olympic Games moved forward this summer, an estimated 11,000 athletes and hundreds of thousands of fans would have been kept in close quarters.
Now, the Games follow suit with most major professional sports leagues around the world. In North America, Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL and NHL have postponed their seasons while countless international soccer leagues across the world have halted play as well.