In response to a flood of meet cancellations all over the world in the last 24 hours, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is standing by its previous rhetoric that there are currently no plans to cancel, delay, or move the Tokyo Olympics this Summer. In a press release put out this afternoon, the IOC says it remains “fully committed to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.” The IOC says its working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), the city of Tokyo, the government of Japan, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, and the United Nations to monitor the situation and determine how to proceed.
Importantly, the IOC notes that many countries’ Olympic qualifying meets have been canceled, and says they are determined to assist International Federations (IF) and National Olympic Committees (NOC) to address missed qualifying opportunites. The IOC states that “Our goal is to help find consistent and credible solutions to replace any missed opportunities for qualification you may have had.” We don’t yet know what those “credible solutions” will look like, although they do say they want to ensure there is “fair access” to qualification events.
The IOC says it will continue to update on the state of the Olympics and Olympic qualifying as information becomes available. You can read the whole release from the IOC below:
WHO position on COVID-19
As you are no doubt aware, the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday declared that COVID-19 has become a pandemic due to the speed and scale of transmission rather than the severity of the disease. A pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”
You can find the full WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the Mission briefing on COVID-19 – 12 March 2020 here.
Tokyo 2020 qualification system impacts
We understand the significant challenges you face, particularly in terms of travel regulations and the varying restrictions on the organisation of events which continue to change daily.
As a result, we are focused on assisting IFs and NOCs to address any challenges they may have with Olympic qualification events. Our goal is to help find consistent and credible solutions to replace any missed opportunities for qualification you may have had.
In doing so we want to ensure you have fair access to qualification events and for qualification to take place on the field of play, including supporting IFs to create fair alternatives to lost qualification opportunities. We are therefore working closely with IFs to approve any necessary changes to the dates and locations of events and any necessary adaptations to the qualification systems.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Following the lighting of the Olympic Flame in Olympia today, the IOC confirmed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Please see the full statement below:
We remain absolutely in line with our Japanese hosts in our commitment to delivering safe Olympic Games in July this year.
At the same time, the world is facing challenges that are also impacting sport. But with 19 weeks before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the many measures being taken now by authorities all around the world give us confidence and keep us fully committed to delivering Olympic Games that can bring the world together in peace.
The IOC is proud of the solidarity and flexibility shown by the athletes, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees, which are managing challenges with the qualification system in a number of sports. We are addressing them together. The IOC is cooperating closely with all those concerned and demonstrating all the flexibility needed to adapt the qualification systems. We are also working with all other stakeholders (including Rights-Holding Broadcasters and sponsors) in order to address the current situation.
We remain in close contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee through our joint task force, which was set up in mid-February. The IOC will continue to follow the advice of WHO, as the leading United Nations agency on this topic.
As part of our ongoing efforts to keep you informed and as up to date as possible on the impact of COVID-19, the IOC will continue to publish the latest information and advice for athletes here.
Additionally, the IOC Athletes’ Commission will host the next conference call with the Global Network of Athletes’ Commissions on 18 March 2020 from 2-3 pm CET and will be focused exclusively on COVID-19 and its impacts. A summary of the call will be made available on Athlete365.