Olympics Organizers Remain Committed to Holding Games, Despite Coronavirus

By Wout Vergauwen | March 18, 2020

The International Olympic Committee remains committed to holding the Tokyo Olympics this year and is confident steps taken around the world will help contain the novel coronavirus, but the group is now talking in more cautious terms about the potential fallout from the pandemic.

“With more than four months to go before the games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage,” the IOC said Tuesday in a statement. “Any speculation at this moment would be counterproductive.”

Instead of harsh denials and refusals to acknowledge the games could be in jeopardy, the IOC now says it is an “unprecedented situation,” one that is “changing day by day.” Any big decision — to hold, cancel or postpone the games — will come with the health and well-being of the athletes as the top priority, the IOC said.

“The IOC’s decision will not be determined by financial interests,” the committee said. “Thanks to its risk management policies and insurance it will in any case be able to continue its operations and accomplish its mission to organize the Olympic Games.”

The IOC held a conference call Tuesday with sports federations around the world. In the coming days, it will hold talks with with national teams, like Team USA, athlete representatives and the International Paralympic Committee.

Tuesday’s announcement came shortly after Tokyo’s Olympic torch relay was being modified in order to limit large gatherings in accordance with guidance issued by the World Health Organization.

Photograph: The New National Stadium, the main venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Olympic rings are reflected in a glass window of the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo. Photo credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg.

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