Decision to postpone Olympics already made, says IOC member Dick Pound

The International Olympic Committee has already decided to postpone the Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to IOC member Dick Pound.

The IOC has given itself four weeks to determine the future of this summer’s Olympics, which are due to get under way on July 24.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told USA Today.

“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

Pound believes the IOC will announce its decision soon, adding: “It will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

Great Britain are unlikely to be able to send a team to Tokyo in any case, the chair of the British Olympic Association has warned.

Hugh Robertson welcomed the IOC’s announcement that it is examining contingency scenarios, including postponement.

However, he said that, due to the widespread closure of training facilities and the likelihood that the impact of coronavirus in Britain will worsen over the coming weeks, there was almost certainly no way Team GB could compete, even if the Games were given the green light.

Sir Hugh Robertson says it is unlikely Great Britain would send a team to Tokyo were the Olympics to take place as planned
Sir Hugh Robertson says it is unlikely Great Britain would send a team to Tokyo were the Olympics to take place as planned (Steven Paston/PA)

“I think it is very simple. If the virus continues as predicted by the Government, I don’t think there is any way we can send a team,” he told Sky Sports News.

“And I base that on two things. Firstly, I don’t see any way that the athletes and Team GB could be ready by then.

“Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.

“Second, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this.

“We are actually in a process where we are talking to all our sports. We will complete that over the next couple of days. At the end of that we have already said to the IOC that we think their four-week pause is absolutely the right thing to do.

“We can’t see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted at the moment and I expect we will be joining Canada and Australia shortly.”

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees have already announced they will not compete in Tokyo this summer, while the Australians have told their athletes to prepare for a postponement to the summer of 2021.

The BOA, the British Paralympic Association and funding body UK Sport will hold a conference call with the chief executives and performance directors of the summer Olympic and Paralympic sports on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

There is growing anticipation they will make a collective call for the Games to be postponed and to advise athletes to prepare on that basis.

Boris Johnson's official spokesperson has called on the IOC to act swiftly
Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson has called on the IOC to act swiftly (PA)

Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson has urged the IOC to make a “definitive decision”.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “Athletes are facing significant uncertainty in the current environment.

“Their health and safety, alongside that of sports fans and officials due to work at the Games, must be absolutely paramount.

“We want the International Olympic Committee to make a definitive decision soon to bring clarity to all of those involved.

“The Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston set out yesterday that the IOC should be seriously considering postponing the Games.”

A statement from the Tokyo 2020 organisers on Monday afternoon reiterated that discussions would be finalised in the next four weeks, adding: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this crisis, and we will continue to prioritise the safety of athletes, spectators and all other Games participants.”

Meanwhile, a leading figure on the BOA’s athletes’ commission has described IOC president Thomas Bach as arrogant and stubborn over the organisation’s approach to the pandemic.

Callum Skinner, a 2016 Olympic cycling champion, was scathing about Bach in a social media post.

“IOC president Thomas Bach’s stubbornness and arrogance has spectacularly failed in this instance and he has weakened the Olympic movement,” Skinner wrote on Twitter.

“This isn’t the first time he has put his own motives above the athletes and the movement.”

Skinner’s post went on to praise those national Olympic committees and international sports federations which have already expressed opposition to the Games going ahead as scheduled.

British Cycling has extended its suspension of sanctioned events to June 30, meaning the national road championships will be postponed, while GB Taekwondo has suspended all centralised elite training and closed the national base in Manchester until further notice.

Formula One boss Chase Carey is planning a revised season of 15 to 18 races when the sport resumes. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which had been due to take place on June 7, was postponed on Monday, the eighth race to be affected so far.

UEFA has officially postponed the men’s and women’s Champions League finals and the Europa League final, which were all due to take place in May. No decision has been made on rearranged dates.

In self isolation as @GeorgeLineker has symptoms. They’re not the regular ones, but complete loss of sense of taste and smell. Odd these have not been pointed out much. Been nearly a week and has spent time at mine. I’ve been vigilant, hand washing/distancing but isolation it is.

— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 23, 2020

Former England striker turned broadcaster Gary Lineker tweeted that he is self-isolating after his son George displayed symptoms of the virus.

Australia’s rugby league competition, the NRL, has suspended its season. Matches, played behind closed doors, had continued to take place until Sunday.

In the other code, Gallagher Premiership side Harlequins have asked all staff, players and coaches to take a 25 per cent pay cut.

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