Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Says 2020 Tokyo Olympics Could Be Postponed

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2020

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talks to the media during a press conference in Tokyo on March 14, 2020. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/Getty Images

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated Tokyo is planning to host the Summer Olympics but acknowledged a postponement is a possibility amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"If it is difficult to hold the Games in such a way, we have to decide to postpone it, giving top priority to the athletes," Abe said, per CNN's Will Ripley.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Sunday the IOC had started discussions "with all the stakeholders" regarding the fate of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Bach added he expects a final resolution within four weeks.

The Olympics are scheduled to open July 24. Even if the spread of COVID-19 is contained by the summer, the outbreak has significantly impacted the training for numerous athletes preparing for the event.

The United States' official Olympic and Paralympic training facilities in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Lake Placid, New York, closed their doors after orders from government officials. The Washington Post's Rick Maese reported star swimmers Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel were unable to conduct their usual training after Stanford closed its swimming facilities.

Citing the athletes' mental and physical health, USA Swimming and USA Track & Field issued statements asking for the 2020 Olympics to be postponed:

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Following Bach's open letter, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and Athletes' Advisory Council published a joint statement asking for an expedient resolution:

"Every day counts. We remain steadfast in our recommendation that Team USA athletes continue to heed the advice of public health officials and prioritize their health and wellness over all else. At the same time we are eager to continue to explore alternatives to ensure all athletes have a robust and fulfilling Olympic and Paralympic experience, regardless of when that can safely occur. Together we will find solutions that keep the spirit of the Games alive."

Major sports are on hold in the United States until at least May on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid events with more than 50 people for at least eight weeks.

Japanese outlet Nikkan Sports reported Nippon Professional Baseball considers April 24 the earliest the league could begin its 2020 season (via Baseball Prospectus' Kazuto Yamazaki).

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