Speed Reads

coronavirus fallout

2020 Tokyo Olympics look increasingly likely to be held in 2021

On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) raised the possibility that the 2020 Summer Olympics could be postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, saying a final decision will be made within four weeks. Soon after, Canada's Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee said they will not send teams to Tokyo this year because "nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community," and Australia then announced it is advising its athletes to skip the Summer Games.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared to accept the inevitable, telling Japanese lawmakers Monday that "if it is difficult to hold (the Games) in a complete way, a decision of postponement would be unavoidable." He had previously ruled out postponing the Olympics. "Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, but a national audit put the figure at more than twice that much," The Associated Press reports. "The bill is sure to increase with any postponement, and the vast majority of the spending if from the public treasury. The IOC has a reserve fund of about $2 billion to tide itself over, and also has insurance against postponement or cancellation."

Calls for postponing the Olympics, set to start July 24, have grown over the past week. World Athletics President Seb Coe told the IOC that holding the Games in July "is neither feasible nor desirable" because athletes would over-prepare after a period of uncertainty, among other reasons.

South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, who won gold at the 2012 Olympics, raised similar concerns Sunday in tweeting about his own struggle with COVID-19. It is "by far the worst virus I have ever endured," he tweeted. "Although the most severe symptoms (extreme fever) have eased, I am still struggling with serious fatigue and a residual cough that I can't shake. Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours."