The spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus across the world has already led to the cancellation of major sporting events, including the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix, and festivals. Now many are asking the question – “should the Olympics be cancelled?”
Currently sporting events across Japan have been postponed, including the J-League football, until 15 March. Although the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics are not due to be held until 24 July, a decision on their future needs to be made soon. Some 11,000 are due to travel to the country for the Tokyo Olympics.
“As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo,” former Canadian swimming champion Dick Pound told Associated Press reports the BBC on 25 February. Pound has been an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member since 1978.
Should the Olympics Be Cancelled? – D-Day and Contingencies
Pound added that a definitive decision on whether the Olympic Games should be cancelled need not be taken before late May.
“You could certainly go to two months out if you had to,” he said, adding that cancelling the Olympics was a “worst-case scenario”, with other measures, such as postponement or holding events in other places, including London, under consideration.
“We have to think of alternatives,” he said. “Could you still hold them this year? We would speak with the Japanese government to ask them if this ‘bubble’ can be held in place.
“Everything is on the table. You could disperse the Games, for example have some events in Canada, some in Britain, etc.”
The Cost of Delay
Any delay or cancellation will come as a sever cost to the host nation. Officially Japan is spending $12.6 billion on the Tokyo Olympics, although a national audit board reports the actual figure as twice that, according to CNBC.
Any decision the IOC makes on whether the Olympics should be cancelled will be led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and national governments.
Coronovirus COVID-19 started in Hubei province, China, and has infected more than 81,000 people globally, killing 2,763, according to John Hopkins CSSE. However, only 178 cases have been reported in Japan.
If the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were to be cancelled, it would not be the first time for this to happen to Japan.
The 1940 Olympics were due to be held in Tokyo, but were cancelled due to the Second World War. However the summer games were held in Tokyo in 1964. The Rio Olympic Games went ahead in 2016, despite the Zika virus outbreak.