Olympic Official Says Tokyo Games Will Go Ahead Despite Suggestion Coronavirus Could Change Plans
"The Games are going ahead on the 24th of July and we completely expect to deliver them on that date," IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said Tuesday
An International Olympics Committee spokesperson is insisting that the Summer Olympics in Tokyo will go on as planned, despite the suggestion from Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto earlier on Tuesday that the city’s contract with the IOC could allow for a postponement.
“The Games are going ahead on the 24th of July and we completely expect to deliver them on that date,” he said. “All the advice we’ve been given is that that can go ahead, from the WHO and other organizations.”
While there is a lot of “worry” and “speculation” surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Adams said, “We like to stick to the facts,” and reiterated that the World Health Organization said “that these games can go ahead.”
“And indeed, they will go ahead,” he added.
The contract between the IOC and Tokyo “calls for the Games to be held within 2020 … [this] could be interpreted as allowing a postponement,” Hashimoto said during a meeting of the Japanese parliament on Tuesday.
Hashimoto also said that the IOC “has the right to cancel the games only if they are not held during 2020.”
The ongoing discussions over the status of the Olympics comes as worldwide concerns over COVID-19 continue to grow.
There have been at least 93,312 confirmed cases of COVD-19 worldwide as of Tuesday, with 80,151 of those cases in mainland China where the virus originated, recent data from Johns Hopkins University shows. There have been 282 confirmed cases and six total deaths in Japan.
Adams’ definitive statement Tuesday comes shortly after IOC senior member Dick Pound said that if the novel coronavirus continues to spread through late May, officials would likely cancel the Games rather than postpone or move them.
“This is the new war and you have to face it. In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo, or not?’” Pound told the Associated Press on Feb. 25.
Pound continued: “You could certainly go to two months out if you had to. A lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels, the media folks will be in there building their studios.”