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Tokyo 2020: Games in doubt as PM Abe hints at postponement for first time

The shadow of pandemic COVID-19 hangs heavy over the Tokyo Olympics slated to begin on the 24th of July. The Australian Olympic Committee has announced it would not send its team to the Olympics and Paralympics in the summer of 2020.

AOC said it could not assemble a team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus. 

Australia is the second country to make this announcement. The Canadian Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee had done the same on Sunday.

Opposition to holding the Games in July has risen sharply in the past 48 hours, with several major stakeholders such as U.S. Track and Field and UK Athletics, along with several national Olympic committees, calling for a delay because of the pandemic.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Parliamentary Session on Monday that this summer’s Tokyo Olympics cannot be held under current circumstances due to the new coronavirus pandemic, suggesting for the first time that the games may have to be postponed. He however ruled out cancellation.

Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori said that organisers would consider postponement as one of many scenarios that they aim to have ready in four weeks, but that the Games would not be canceled. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike also echoed similar sentiments.

The Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe) also said at the parliament that if it (the Games) became difficult to hold as planned, he would think of the athletes first, and might have no option but to consider postponing it. And I agree with him.”

Tokyo locals also favour the idea of postponing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  

20-year-old University Student, Yuta Suzuki saying: “I think it’s better to postpone (the Olympic Games) and be flexible to avoid spreading the virus. It (the Olympics) gathers people from all over the world.”

Cancellation or even postponing the Tokyo Olympics will take a huge toll economically for Japan. Analyst Robert Ward tweeted


Early estimates of economic impact on Japan of not holding Tokyo Olympics as scheduled. Up to ¥7.8trn (USD71bn) if cancelled, more than ¥600bn if postponed. An inevitable but grim decision for Abe. 

The International Olympic Committee had on Sunday said it would decide whether or not to postpone the Summer Games at some point in the next four weeks. However, it added that cancelling the Games altogether was “not on the agenda”.

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