Toyko's contract with the International Olympic Committee does not specify when the games need to be held, so long as they are in 2020

By Georgia Slater
March 03, 2020 01:38 PM
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The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo may be postponed to later in the year should the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise worldwide, according to an Olympic official.

During a meeting of the Japanese parliament Tuesday, Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto explained that Toyko’s contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not specify when the games need to be held, as long as they are in 2020, Deadline reported.

The contract “calls for the Games to be held within 2020 … [this] could be interpreted as allowing a postponement,” she explained.

While the sporting event is currently scheduled to start July 24, the IOC “has the right to cancel the games only if they are not held during 2020,” Hashimoto added, according to The Japan Times.

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“We are doing all we can to ensure that the Games go ahead as planned,” she continued, while IOC president Thomas Bach added that they are “fully committed” to hosting the Olympics in July, according to Deadline.

As of March 3, there have been at least 93,312 confirmed cases of COVD-19 worldwide — with 80,151 of the cases in mainland China where the virus originated, according to recent Johns Hopkins’ data. In Japan, there have been 282 confirmed cases and 6 total deaths.

According to Deadline, several sporting events have already been canceled due to the outbreak including the 2020 World Indoor Athletics Championships and the Chinese Grand Prix.

News of the Tokyo Olympics possible postponement comes nearly a week after the IOC announced the games could be canceled should the coronavirus situation not improve.

On Feb. 25, Dick Pound, a senior member of the IOC, said officials will likely cancel the Games — rather than to postpone or move it — if the epidemic continues to spread by late May.

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“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?’” he said.

“You could certainly go to two months out if you had to,” he continued. “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.”

There have only been five Olympics canceled in modern history — all of which were abandoned due to the onset of a world war. The last time the Games were called off was during World War II.