- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that the 2020 Olympic Games might be suspended.
- Travel restrictions and a worsening pandemic mean the situation “isn’t adequate,” Abe was quoted by the local outlet Sankei as saying.
- His comments came after the outright withdrawal of the Canadian team from the Summer Games. A statement from Canada said neither its Olympic team nor its Paralympic team would compete.
- A 2020 Olympics executive in Tokyo said postponing the event was “inevitable.”
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The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo may be suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday.
The spread of the virus has seen major sports organisations, events, and leagues around the world shut down operations for the foreseeable future. MLB, the NHL, the English Premier League, and the NBA have all halted games, while UEFA has postponed the summer’s Euro 2020 soccer tournament until 2021.
The 2020 Olympics is scheduled to run from July 24 to August 9, yet travel restrictions and a worsening crisis in many countries means the situation at the moment “isn’t adequate,” Abe said, according to the Japanese news outlet Sankei.
“I don’t think the world will be ready considering the spread of the novel coronavirus infection,” Abe reportedly told the Upper House Budget Committee.
Sankei reported that Abe also said it was important that all participating countries, not just Japan, could participate in the games in perfect condition.
Canada officially withdraws its teams from the 2020 Olympics
Abe’s comments followed the official withdrawal of Canada from the summer’s event.
The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee, backed by the Canadian government, will not send teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, a statement on Team Canada said.
Canada’s statement even calls on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the games because of the pandemic.
“While we recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the statement said.
There are 339,645 confirmed global cases of COVID-19, with a death toll in Italy alone of 5,476. Japan has 1,101 confirmed coronavirus cases and 41 deaths.
“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health,” Team Canada’s statement said.
“With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games.
“In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”
Postponement of the Olympics is ‘inevitable’
The Tokyo 2020 president, Yoshiro Mori, said “the possible postponement is inevitable,” according to Francesca Regalado, a reporter for the Nikkei Asian Review.
Tokyo 2020 president Mori: “The possible postponement is inevitable,” next four weeks’ discussion will focus on scenario planning and duration of postponement.
— Francesca Regalado (@cheskareports) March 23, 2020
Regalado added that over the next month discussions would take place regarding scenario planning and the duration of postponement.
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