A postponement of the Tokyo Summer Olympics looks more likely after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that holding the games in their “complete form” may become impossible because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Abe told parliament Monday that the safety and security of the athletes is his highest priority, while adding there are no plans to cancel the games outright.
The International Olympic Committee says it will hold a month of talks before it decides whether to put off the games scheduled to open in Tokyo July 24. It says it is considering a number of scenarios.
“This step will allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan. It will serve as the basis for the best decision in the interests of the athletes and everyone else involved,” the IOC statement said.
The IOC has already ruled out canceling the games saying that “would not solve any of the problems or help anybody.”
Tokyo Olympic organizing president Yoshiro Mori said Monday he thinks it is a good idea for the committee to take its time before making any decisions.
The IOC is under pressure from a number of national committees to at least put off the games.
The Australian, German, and Canadian Olympic committees are recommending a one-year postponement. Canada and Norway both say they will not send athletes to Tokyo if the Summer Games and the Paralympics are both held on time.
USA Gymnastics President Li Li Leung says she is worried that if the games are held in July, the athletes may not have enough time to properly train. She noted that gyms in many states have been shut down.
The head of Portugal’s committee says he is also concerned that another month of uncertainty will also leave Portuguese athletes undertrained because of restrictions caused by the coronavirus.