IOC Member: 2020 Tokyo Olympics Could Be Canceled Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2020

The Olympic flag (L) and the logo of the Tokyo 2020 are displayed during the official flag arrival ceremony at the Tokyo's Haneda airport on August 24, 2016. - The Olympic flag arrived in Tokyo on August 24, as Japan's capital gears up to host the 2020 Games, with officials promising smooth sailing after Rio's sometimes shaky 2016 instalment. (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are more likely to be canceled than moved or rescheduled if by late May the coronavirus outbreak is deemed too dangerous to go ahead with the original schedule, according to International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound.

Speaking to Stephen Wade of the Associated Press, veteran IOC member Pound said "you're probably looking at a cancellation" if the authorities decide Tokyo 2020 cannot go ahead as scheduled from July 24 to August 9. 

Pound, 77, is the IOC's longest-serving member. He first joined in 1978.

Per Wade, the Canadian former swimming champion explained why May could be the latest the call can be made:

"In and around that time, I'd say folks are going to have to ask: 'Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?' A lot of things have to start happening. You've got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels. The media folks will be in there building their studios."

A number of sporting events have already been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 80,000 people around the world.

The 2020 Formula One Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed from its original date of April 17 to 19 at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Outside of China, where the virus originated, 11 people have now died in Italy, per BBC News.

As a result, it has been confirmed that six Serie A matches will be played behind closed doors this weekend, including the top-of-the-table clash between Juventus and Inter Milan. 

If Tokyo 2020 is called off, it would be the first peacetime cancelation of the Olympics in history.

The 1916 Games were canceled because of World War I, and the 1940 and 1944 events did not go ahead because of World War II.

Pound had a message for the Tokyo Olympics' potential athletes: "As far as we all know, you're going to be in Tokyo. All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation."