In an interview with USA Today, International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound confirmed suggestions that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be delayed. The IOC committee veteran didn’t lay out specifics, but suggested that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could delay the games until 2021.
“We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense,” Pound told the paper, adding that specific decisions would “come in stages.” Details on the decision (along with official confirmation) are likely to emerge at some point in the next month. “The parameters going forward have not been determined,” he added, “but the games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
The news comes after both Canada and Australia noted over the weekend that they would not be sending athletes to the games this year. Earlier today, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested that the events could be delayed, while adding that canceling them outright was “not an option.” In addition to prestige, the games are a source of major economic windfall for the host country.
A spokesperson for the IOC only went so far as re-confirming its earlier statement that it will be exploring all options. While it’s impossible to know precisely what the COVID-19 situation will look like come summer, the impact of the virus has had such a profound impact on every aspect of life, it has seemed increasingly unlikely that the Olympics would be able to proceed as scheduled.