The International Olympic Committee acknowledged on Sunday that it was considering a postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics scheduled to be played in Tokyo and other Japanese venues.
The move reflects the reality of the worsening novel coronavirus pandemic around the world. When the possibility of a postponement was first breached, it was because of the outbreak in Japan. But the
total number of cases in Japan stood on Sunday at only 1,772, many of them from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The Olympic torch arrived in northern Japan last week, drawing thousands
In a letter to athletes on Sunday, IOC president Thomas Bach
ruled out canceling the Games altogether but said a decision on alternative ways to stage the Olympics
would be made within the next four weeks after discussions with key stakeholders, including Japanese organizers and international governing bodies.
"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 in the letter. "We are working very hard, and we are confident that we will have finalized these discussions within the next four weeks."
In a statement issued
after Bach's letter was published, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it won't send teams to the Olympics unless they were postponed to 2021. The Australian committee said its athletes couldn't be
assembled and prepared for a fall 2020 competition.
USA Swimming and USA Track and Field, the two most important U.S. governing bodies within the Olympic movement, have called for the
Olympics to be postponed.
The U.S. women's national team has already qualified for the Olympics from Concacaf along with Canada. The U.S. under-23 men were training in Guadalajara,
Mexico, when Concacaf postponed its qualifying competition.
Olympic men's soccer features 16 teams. The two Concacaf qualifiers are the last entrants to be decided.
the 12 women's entrants remain to be determined: the winners of series between China and South Korea and Cameroon and Chile.
Olympic soccer is scheduled to be played in seven venues