According to International Olympic Committee member and former Canadian swimmer Dick Pound, the committee has decided to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games, USA Today’s Christine Brennan reported Monday.
Pound said that the postponement will likely be until 2021, with “details to be worked out in the next four weeks.”
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told USA Today. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
“It will come in stages,” he added. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
Sunday, the committee announced it would set a four-week deadline to make a decision. When asked about Pound’s comments, spokesperson Mark Adams said: “It is the right of every IOC member to interpret the decision of the IOC executive board which was announced yesterday.”
Athletes worldwide have started to lobby for a postponement. Over the weekend, National Olympic Committees began signaling they would either heavily push for postponement, or refuse to bring their athletes to Tokyo.
Pound, notably, already made headlines this year when he said in February that the IOC would have until May to decide the Games’ fate and that a full cancelation was more likely than a postponement. His comments were widely disputed by other officials.
Update: on a radio appearance shortly after his comments to USA Today became public, Pound issued further context.
“If they’re going to cancel the Games as one extreme, you don’t have to wait four weeks to do that,” Pound said, as reported by Sports Illustrated. “You just cancel it and put everybody out of their misery. If you’re carrying on with your original plan of July 24th, you don’t need to issue anything because you’ve been talking that way and dealing with the press and elsewhere with that. If you look at the only alternative in the middle of that, it’s the p-word. Postponement is on the table. It’s really a question of whether you postpone by a year or you try and see whether you can squeeze this in at the end of 2020 but with the curve on the COVID virus heading almost straight up, it’s just so unlikely that I think you’re looking at a year. In Japan, you’ve got the prime minister advising the Japanese public that it looks like they won’t be able to proceed as planned and that a postponement may be likely – along with the support of 69% of his constituents that prefer to have a postponement.”
He further walked back his initial take:
“I think the only rational conclusion from all that is we’re talking postponement and you need the four weeks that they mentioned to come up with an alternative,” Pound said. “You can’t just say, ‘We’re going to postpone.’ Because that relieves none of the uncertainty that’s out there. We’re going to take four weeks and we’ll come up and we’re going to give you as much of a Plan B as much as we can at that time.”