There is no delicate way to say much the ongoing outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus has ruined many plans and schedules for events to take place within this year for a start. A major tech and business event such as the Mobile World Congress in Spain was cancelled for fear of spreading the infection (since several Chinese companies were exhibiting). In sports, a number of sporting events both national and regional in Asia have either been postponed or called off. But the big cheese of sports this year, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, seems determined to keep the course of opening in July, or so until a new announcement.
Inquirer.net has it that now even the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo can no longer brave the COVID-19 disease outbreak with absolute certainty to launch its mega-sporting event in the middle of this year. This was revealed by senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound from Canada. Pound issued a statement Tuesday, February 25, that the IOC will be able to wait and observe the novel coronavirus spread for three more months before they make a decision regarding the games. If it proves too risky to start, then the Olympics will not just be postponed but cancelled for 2020.
Pound explains that as the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics draws near, the Japanese organizing committee will have to escalate activity at the venues, from increasing security presence, to bringing in food for the delegates and athletes staying at the Olympic Village and reserved hotels, and the construction of local studios for world media to report from. Such a mass movement of people at a time when the COVID-19 outbreak continues will have people asking just how much the host country has their infrastructure under control and monitoring to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus.
While Dick Pound, the most senior sitting IOC member since 1978, is frank at saying that the committee will call for cancelling the 2020 Summer Olympics if the COVID-19 situation worsens, that call may not have to be made until this May at the very latest. Until then, he encourages all participating athletes around the world to continue training and making travel arrangements for Tokyo. The IOC is working with the World Health Organization to ensure the coronavirus outbreak remains monitored.
And besides, it should be recalled that the 2016 Rio Olympics period was in the middle of the Zika virus outbreak, and was carried out without significant health alerts. Then again, Japan does have confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which four have already passed away.
Image from CBS Sports