IOC facing monumental decision

March 23, 2020

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HAMBURG: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has shown in the past it can defy major criticism but the pressure it is now facing amid the coronavirus pandemic for the Tokyo Games could be unprecedented.

The IOC and its president Thomas Bach are however, for now, plowing on with their plans to hold the Games as scheduled between July 24 and August 9, and at least not saying in public when a final decision would be made.

Bach has insisted that owing to the vast complexity Olympics can’t be pushed back as easily as other events, such as the European and South American football championships which are both now to be held next year.

A switch to 2022 would possibly deny many athletes a chance to compete, and even more going back to 2024, and pushing Paris to 2028 and Los Angeles to 2032. And 2022 already has the Beijing Winter Games and Dakar Youth Olympics.

A move to 2021 may be more realistic but next year also sees long arranged world championships in all summer sports, including in the showcase sports of swimming and athletics which would both overlap with the Olympics should they keep their 2020 slot.

These championships in Fukuoka, Japan (swimming) and Eugene, Oregon (athletics) could however possibly be moved to slightly other 2021 dates or 2022, where however continental championships plus the Commonwealth and Asian Games are scheduled.

In addition, the flats of the Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo for 11,000 athletes plus officials are to be sold from autumn 2020 onwards.

It will take a monumental effort to reschedule the Games for which Japan has spent some 13 billion dollars and which it sees as a signal of hope after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown from 2011. Tokyo was already unable to host the 1940 event because of the war, before staging the 1964 competition. A final decision will be made by the IOC, the city of Tokyo and the Japanese Olympic Committee, the three parties that signed the host city contract when Tokyo landed the Games in 2013.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2020