Report: Tokyo Olympics Could Be Moved or Canceled Due to Coronavirus

The virus shows no signs of slowing down before this summer's Olympics

Tokyo 2020 rings
View of the Olympic Rings near the Japan Olympic Museum and the New National Stadium in Tokyo.
Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
By Luis Paez-Pumar / February 22, 2020 12:11 pm

Just last week, officials for the Tokyo Olympics assured the press that the rapid spread of the coronavirus would not hamper preparation for the Games, which are set to take place this summer. Seven days later, the situation has deteriorated, and now the Games are in serious jeopardy.

A new report by Time‘s Charlie Campbell lays out a possible situation where the Olympics could be moved or even canceled, as the virus continues to spread throughout Asia, burdening the region with health concerns and financial downturns. Since the first case was diagnosed in early December, it’s estimated that the world economy has already lost over $280 billion due to the coronavirus crisis, and Japan has not been exempt from that loss, as it is the country with the second most reported cases of the disease, after China, where it originated.

Four days after last week’s announcement that the Games are still scheduled to go on as planned, officials canceled portions of the Tokyo Marathon, allowing only so-called “elite runners” to participate.

Dick Pound, a member of the International Olympic Committee, raised the possibility of a potential shift in the scheduled start for the Olympics, saying that it’s something the IOC monitoring while also reaffirming the belief that it will not be necessary to do so:

If there’s a legitimate pandemic that is potentially a lot more lethal than normal illnesses of flu, that’s when you need to start thinking about it. But not at this stage.

If the Olympics were to be moved, it would likely be a location change, not a time change. Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports industry at the Emlyon business school who is quoted in the Time report, suggested following in the 2020 European Championships’ footsteps and hosting the Olympics in a handful of neighboring countries. As noted in the report, however, both the IOC and sponsors would likely balk at changing the location, and Japan, which has already spent over $25 billion to host the event, would likely raise protests as well.

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Read the full story at Time

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