There are less than five months to go until the 2020 Summer Olympics are scheduled to kick off in Tokyo and the world continues to be stuck in a state of disarray due to the global coronavirus outbreak. The pandemic has led to the cancellation or postponement of countless major sporting events already, and the 2020 Games could soon be next.
The International Olympic Committee plans on holding emergency crisis talks with international sports bodies -- including national Olympic committees and athletes -- via a conference call on Tuesday of this week. Those talks will reportedly center around the actions that are being taken to combat the outbreak while preparing for the upcoming games. Bach and the IOC will also reportedly try to answer any questions that federations or athletes may have.
IOC member Dick Pound told the AP in late February that there was a possibility that coronavirus could lead to a cancellation of the 2020 Games and they would continue to monitor the outbreak and its dangers as they progressed. Things have only gotten worse in many parts of the world since then, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he was still confident that Tokyo would host the Olympics in July and August.
Due to logistical complications with planning and scheduling, it's unlikely that the games will be postponed or moved rather than outright canceled. In the event of a cancellation, there's an emergency insurance fund of $1 billion for organizations that need revenue from the Olympics to survive.
Pound said the IOC would need a two- or three-month window for cancellation, meaning a decision on whether to carry on with the Games would likely need to be made by May. Bach said this week that the IOC would follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization when it came to carrying on or pulling the plug with the event.
Several Olympic qualifying events have already had to be canceled as a result of the outbreak and that will likely present some complications, though the IOC says it would show some "flexibility" towards qualifying as a result of the circumstances this year.