Postponing the Olympics over the coronavirus pandemic may become “inevitable”, Japan’s Prime Minister conceded Monday, after the International Olympic Committee said a delay was being considered as pressure grows from athletes and sports bodies.
The comments from Shinzo Abe were his first acknowledgement that the 2020 Games may not open as scheduled on July 24, as the coronavirus marches across the globe causing unprecedented chaos. For weeks, Japan and Olympic officials have held the line that preparations are moving ahead to hold the Games as scheduled, but there has been increasing pressure from sports federations and athletes whose training has been thrown into turmoil.
On Monday, Abe told parliament that Japan was still committed to hosting a “complete” Games, but added: “If that becomes difficult, in light of considering athletes first, it may become inevitable that we make a decision to postpone. Cancellation is not an option,” Abe said, echoing comments from IOC chief Thomas Bach, who ruled out scrapping the Games, saying it “would not solve any problem and would help nobody”.