Tokyo Olympics 2020: A complete timeline of events that led to postponement of Games

Here's the complete timeline of events that led to postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until 2021.

The Associated Press March 24, 2020 20:44:09 IST
Tokyo Olympics 2020: A complete timeline of events that led to postponement of Games

Lausanne: How the debate over postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics changed this year during the coronavirus outbreak:

11 January

Tokyo Olympics 2020 A complete timeline of events that led to postponement of Games

Representational photo. AP

"We are aware of the reports on the outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan. As it stands, the WHO (World Health Organization) have indicated that the Chinese authorities have confirmed that SARS and MERS Coronaviruses have been ruled out, and that there is no convincing evidence of human to human transmission.” — IOC statement about an Olympic boxing qualifying tournament scheduled in Wuhan.

15 February

“Certainly the advice we’ve received externally from the WHO is that there’s no case for any contingency plans or cancelling the games or moving the games.” — John Coates, head of IOC inspection team for 2020 Olympics, at news conference in Tokyo.

18 February/

“Way too far away” (to advise on changing Tokyo Olympics plans). — WHO emergencies program director Mike Ryan.

25 February

“You could certainly go to two months out if you had to” (before postponing the 24 July-9 August games). — IOC senior member Dick Pound in an interview with Associated Press.

"This is the new war and you have to face it. In and around that time, I'd say folks are going to have to ask, ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo, or not?'”— Pound.

“All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation." — Pound.

“It's a big, big, big decision and you just can't take it until you have reliable facts on which to base it. There's so many moving parts, so many countries and different seasons, and competitive seasons, and television seasons. You can't just say, we'll do it in October.” — Pound.

27 February

“For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we’ll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games.” — Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto.

28 February

“The preparations … are continuing with a view to having successful Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo and to reassure the athletes and to encourage them to go ahead full steam with regard to their training and their preparations for what we expect to be very successful Olympic Games.” — IOC president Thomas Bach in a call with Japanese media.

“I'm not ready to add fuel to the flames of speculation there in any way. It is about now, not about speculation.”  — Bach

3 March

“We are going to have the games on the 24th of July,” — IOC spokesman Mark Adams after first day of an executive board meeting.

4 March

“Neither the word cancellation nor the word postponement was even mentioned.” — Bach at news conference after the board meeting.

“I will not take part in any way of such kind of mere speculations.”  —Bach, when asked if WHO declaring a pandemic would change the IOC’s position. (WHO declared a pandemic on 11 March)

12 March

“I would say maybe they postpone it for a year. I like that better than having empty stadiums all over the place.” — US President Donald Trump at White House.

13 March

“The IOC and the organizing committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement — absolutely not at all.” — Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto at a news conference in Tokyo.

13 March

“All Lausanne staff will work from home starting Monday, 16 March until further notice, with the exception of some essential functions. It has been decided to close The (Olympic) Museum from Monday … for two weeks.” — IOC statement.

17 March

“The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.” — IOC statement after conference calls with Olympic sports governing bodies.

“The IOC encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as best they can.” — IOC statement.

“I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity.” — IOC member Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic ice hockey gold medalist.

18 March

“We will keep acting in a responsible way in the interests of the athlete.” — Bach after conference call with athletes representing national Olympic committees.

“I’m sorry Mr Bach but this is tone deaf. The instinct to keep safe (not to mention obey govt instructions to lock down) is not compatible with athlete training, travel and focus that a looming Olympics demands of athletes, spectators organisers etc. Keep them safe. Call it off.” — Matthew Pinsent, 4-time Olympic gold medalist in rowing.

19 March

“We are not living in a bubble or on another planet. Of course we are considering different scenarios.” — Bach in interview with New York Times.

“We also have seen athletes are very creative to bridge this gap for training at home and other training methods. It is a unique exceptional situation, which requires exceptional solutions.” — Bach to New York Times.

"The most infuriating part of this whole thing is it feels like the IOC is going to do what they want, regardless of what the athletes think.” — Sandi Morris, Olympic silver medalist in pole vault.

20 March

“We'd concur with them to say we need more expert advice than we have today. And we don't have to make a decision. The games are four months from now.” — Susanne Lyons, chairman of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

22 March

“There is a dramatic increase in cases and new outbreaks of COVID-19 in different countries on different continents. This led the (board) to the conclusion that the IOC needs to take the next step in its scenario-planning.” — IOC statement after an emergency board meeting.

"The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement. The IOC is confident that it will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks.” — IOC statement.

23 March

“It’s clear the games can’t be held in July." — Ian Chesterman, leader of Australia's Olympic team, telling athletes to prepare for the Tokyo Games in 2021 .

“The games are not going to start on 24 July, that much I know.” — IOC member Dick Pound, in interview with USA Today.

24 March

“President Bach said he will agree ‘100%,’ and we agreed to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in the summer of 2021 at the latest. In order to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in a complete form as a proof of a victory by human beings against the coronavirus infections.” — Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Updated Date:

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