Delaying Olympics by a year is an option: IOC member Dick Pound
For this year's Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled or postponed over the coronavirus outbreak, the world's health would have to be at stake, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound said on Wednesday.
Pound added it is not impossible to reschedule an Olympics for a year later, but wanted athletes who are training for Tokyo to know the IOC is fully committed to having them at the opening ceremony on July 24.
"Only if there is the worst possible outcome of this virus and it becomes a real pandemic or world health is at stake, then we reluctantly have to say well, that's more important frankly than the Olympics," Pound told Reuters at the Montreal law firm where he is a partner.
"But we will do our very best to make sure that you get your Olympic opportunity."
There are at least 164 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and three deaths in Japan following the spread from Wuhan, China.
Pound said any decision on whether to cancel or postpone the Olympics would involve the IOC, Tokyo authorities, governments and international agencies.
But, while he feels the coronavirus presents more of a problem to the Tokyo Olympics than the mosquito-borne Zika virus was to Rio 2016, he sees no reason to start making alternative arrangements at this point.
"We know it spreads easily and that's disturbing... But we're also at the height of the flu season which traditionally is January and February in the winter and then it tapers off and goes down in the warmer months," he said.
Pound, who said the IOC is in constant contact with the World Health Organisation, added that if there is a need to reschedule the Olympics, they could theoretically be postponed until the same period in 2021, but not for later this year because it would interfere with the packed regular sports schedule.
Meanwhile, Norio Ohmagari, an infectious disease specialist in Japan, told AFP he believes measures being taken by the Japanese government can still prevent the virus from spreading more widely, but added that the next three weeks will be critical to containing Covid-19. - REUTERS, AFP