International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound added to the drumbeat on Monday, telling USA Today that the decision to push back the July-August event has already been made. But the committee hasn’t announced a delay yet. It said over the weekend that it would figure out its plans within four weeks. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament Monday that the Olympics will have to be postponed if safety can’t be guaranteed for spectators and athletes due to the pandemic.After weeks of avoiding direct mention of scuttling the current schedule, Abe changed his tone and said if the full games cannot be held in an environment where everyone feels safe, “a decision will have to be made to postpone it.” He added that cancellation was not an option, and that he wanted an IOC decision to be made as soon as possible.
The last time an Olympics was canceled was in 1944 due to World War II, and the games have never been delayed by as long as a year under the auspices of the IOC, which was established in 1894. The 1940 games were initially postponed, but then canceled. Several nations are calling for the Olympics to be pushed back until at least 2021. That would cause logistical nightmares but would be far less painful than cancellation for the host, sponsors, broadcasters and others that have tens of billions of dollars invested in the international sports event. Japan’s Sankei newspaper said organizers were now looking at a delay of a year or less, to avoid any clash with the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.