The Slatest

Japan Starts to Come Up With Possible Plans to Postpone Olympics

A man wearing a face mask stands in front of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame being displayed outside Miyako railway station, Iwate prefecture on March 22, 2020, after arriving from Greece.
A man wearing a face mask stands in front of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame being displayed outside Miyako railway station, Iwate prefecture on March 22, 2020, after arriving from Greece. PHILIP FONG/Getty Images

As the new coronavirus has spread around the world, Japan has insisted that the Summer Olympics will go on as scheduled in July. But it seems organizers may finally be listening to the growing chorus of calls to postpone the 2020 Games. The organizers of Tokyo 2020 have started to quietly draft possible alternatives to holding the Games this summer, reports Reuters. “Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement,” a source said.

For now all we know is that the organizers are coming up with a variety of different plans, including the possibility of holding the Olympics without spectators and even delaying the Games for as many as two years. The organizing committee is set to debate all the proposals at the end of March.

The International Olympic Committee later confirmed that options were being analyzed in a letter that its president, Thomas Bach, wrote to athletes Sunday. “Together with all the stakeholders, we have started detailed discussions today to complete our assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including a scenario of postponement,” Bach wrote. He vowed there would be a decision in the next four weeks. The IOC emphasized that “cancellation is not on the agenda.”

Earlier, the International Olympic Committee has been insisting that the Games would go on as scheduled. But the calls from athletes to postpone the Games are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. On Friday, U.S.A. Swimming called for a postponement saying athletes aren’t able to train as mucha s they normally would due to coronavirus restrictions. U.S.A. Track & Field called for a postponement the next day. The national Olympic committees of Norway and Brazil also called for a postponement, with the South American country specifically calling for the Games to be held in 2021.

There has also been criticism from within the Olympics committee, with some members agreeing the Games shouldn’t take place. “Opening the Olympics at a time when athletes could not train as much as they wanted to runs counter to the motto of ‘athletes first,’” Kaori Yamaguchi, a member of the Japanese Olympic committee board, said. The Olympic flame arrived in Japan on Friday and more than 50,000 people lined up to watch it on display Saturday.

*This post has been updated with new information since it was first published.