After facing weeks of mounting pressure to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, The International Olympic Committee (IOC), has said that they will announce their decision whether to postpone or scale down the Games within the next four weeks.
The games are currently due to begin on 24 July but the IOC have come under serious pressure to postpone the games from a number of countries.
Canada became the first major country to withdraw from the games, calling on the IOC to “urgently” postpone the Games for a year. Australia have also told its athletes to prepare for a rescheduling of the event to 2021.
The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, acknowledged that a postponement may become “inevitable”.
“I couldn’t think of cancellation but I think we may not have a choice but to make a decision to postpone, putting a priority on athletes” Abe told members of Parliament.
The IOC released a statement on Sunday, reiterating the position of Thomas Bach, president of the organization, that cancelling the Games altogether was not an option.
Sebastian Coe, the Head of World Athletics, sent the IOC a letter which wrote that that it was the unanimous view of the sport’s regional leaders that hosting the Games in July as planned “is neither feasible nor desirable.”
“No one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed, but as I have said publicly, we cannot host the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, and a decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly,” Coe wrote. “I believe that time has come, and we owe to our athletes to give them respite where we can. And in this matter, I believe we can.”
The announced four-week time frame did not appease some Olympic athletes and leaders who believe it is too long to be left in the dark.
Hugh Robertson, chairman of the British Olympic Association, said four weeks was too long to wait.
“We urge rapid decision-making for the sake of athletes who still face significant uncertainty,” Robertson said. “Restrictions now in place have removed the ability of athletes to compete on a level playing field, and it simply does not seem appropriate to continue on the present course toward the Olympic Games in the current environment.”
Christian Taylor, a two-time defending gold medallist in the Olympic triple jump and the leader of the Athletics Association, also said that four weeks was too long to wait. His group has been conducting a survey of its members and has received 4,000 responses. Overall, 72 percent said the Olympics should not go on as planned, and 78 percent voted in favour of a postponement. In addition, 87 percent said their training had been compromised.
“I know there are many pieces to the puzzle,” Taylor said. “This is bigger. It’s bigger than a competition. At some point you have to bite the bullet.”
Japan were given the contract to host the Olympic Games. According to Japan’s Olympics minister, Seiko Hashimoto, “The contract calls for the Games to be held within 2020. That could be interpreted as allowing a postponement.”
Accordingly, any postponement for the games to held in 2021 would require renegotiation with the IOC and several sponsors to iron out all the details. This could get messy.