Tokyo 2020 Olympics Can Be Postponed To End Of Year Under IOC Contract: Japan’s Games Minister

The venue - an artist's impression - Photo Courtesy: Tokyo2020

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Japan’s Government has been told that the contract for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games specifies that the event must be held within 2020, allowing for a postponement from July until further towards the end of the year between October and December should the coronavirus emergency make that a safer option.

Cancellation of the Games, as suggested as a more likely outcome than postponement by IOC member Dick Pound a week ago, would be very costly for Japan and all down the chain of commercial interest.

However, Seiko Hashimoto, Japan’s Olympics Minister said, in response to a lawmaker’s question in parliament, made a point of announcing that Tokyo’s Olympics contract only “calls for the Games to be held within 2020” and that it “could be interpreted as [to] allow a postponement.”

The same contract also speaks to Pound’s take: the International Olympic Committee has the right under the hoisting agreement to cancel the Games.

Thomas Bach, head of the IOC said today that preparation for Tokyo 2020 are underway for a “successful” Games, a statement fairly meaningless in terms of what could change ‘business as usual’ to cancellation in quick measure.

tokyo2020-logoThe reason for evergreen optimism, beyond a desire far and wide for normality to reign, is clear: the Games latest budget is 1.35 trillion yen ($12.51 billion) on vastest estimates, Japan’s government spend at 120 billion yen, to build the Olympic Stadium, alongside a 30 billion yen contribution towards the Paralympics, Hashimoto said.

Japan’s Board of Audit put government spending between the bid in 2013 and 2018 at 1.06 trillion yen. And all of that as stick markets tumble and the economy eases off significantly.

Containing the coronavirus is a task being taken seriously in Japan: schools have been asked to close, exhibitions and other large-gathering events, sports included, have been postponed or cancelled, while Japan Para Sports Association and Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic organisers said today cancelled a wheelchair rugby Test event that has been schedule for this month.

Japan started to look at a possible postponement until the end of the year on the day Britain ruled out taking the Games on in London in any white-knight emergency measure. The British Olympic Association moved to underline confidence in Tokyo as the host city, come what may.

In Britain today, a Government corona emergency plan was unveiled with a warning that there could be a “very significant expansion” of the number of cases of coronavirus in the UK as the spring and summer unfold before things start to get better in the worst case scenario.

As the cases of the virus in the UK rose to 39, the European Union raised the coronavirus risk level in member states to “moderate to high”. The country’s worst-case scenario foresaw up to three months of further spread of the virus and then three months of decline before the emergency might be declared to be on the way to being contained ahead of a vaccine being ready sometime in the first six months of 2021.

Meanwhile, the IOC kicked off a crucial executive board meeting on Tuesday to discuss the threat of the coronavirus to this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, with Bach saying:

“We are all healthy and looking forward to the meeting. We are preparing for a successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”



  1. Anna Munger

    Courtney Lynne like we were talking about yesterday

  2. James Ash

    Brilliant. They should delay everything around the world to keep it in 2020 instead of cancelling.

  3. Rachel Moore

    This is great news – hopefully if necessary it will be postponed rather than cancelled

  4. Stephen Paul

    why is no one commenting on the name of the IOC official? his name is dick pound. there has to be someone else as immature as me who lols at that

    • Craig Lord

      Stephen Paul I think u answered your own question ??

  5. Carol Inman Greeman

    This is GREAT news. It would be so sad for all of the athletes if they canceled it.

  6. Shawn Nowak

    Not sure how everyone thinks that is great news?

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Context is the probable answer. Pound suggested cancellation was more likely than postponement if they felt they could not go ahead by a May deadline … cancellation would mean no Games, no title defences, it would be treated like 1916, 1940-44 etc, Pound actually referring to this being ‘our war’… so, this story indicates a little more hope that if by May corona is peaking, as expected by some experts, a decision can be to delay… and better than athletes have a Games sometime in 2020 that none at all…

    • James Hooper

      Shawn Nowak Because the alternative to delaying the Games is having no Olympic Games at all this year.

    • Shawn Nowak

      James Hooper at what expense to the hosting nation?

  7. Nuno Albuquerque

    Todas’s IOC Statement in the Mayer:
    “IOC Executive Board statement on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board (EB) today expressed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, taking place from 24 July to 9 August 2020. (…).

  8. Ann M Cooper

    The summer heat is less conducive to spread of respiratory viruses than the cold season. Just sayin’.

  9. Ja Bounce

    Safety 1st!! This will be very interesting on how all Athletes re-adjust/re-vamp training schedules/Tapers accordingly to Pre-Olympic Quals & Postponed Olympic games dates..

    • avatar

      On point, said is so my on fb. It going to be tricky.

  10. Jannette Colon

    I hope they are postponed rather than canceled.,

  11. Jason Barnard

    Too much $ invested to be cancelled. They will risk the health of every athlete that comes (just like the concerns over air quality in China) before they scrap the whole show.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Sadly, you’re right, Jason, to point to history that explains why cynicism is reasonable