IOC Remains ‘Fully Committed’ to Tokyo ’20: ‘No Need For Any Drastic Decisions’

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to back the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to remain on-schedule, despite the growing slate of cancelled and postponed sporting events due to the coronavirus.

The IOC published a press release today, continuing to stand by the currently-scheduled dates for the 2020 Olympics, and noting that with four months still to go until the major world sporting event, drastic decisions aren’t yet required.

The IOC says it has already been consulting with international sporting federations, which would include FINA for swimming and other aquatics. The IOC will continue in the next few days to consult with other stakeholders, including National Olympic Committees and athlete representatives.

A few important points made in the press release:

  • The IOC doesn’t rule out a cancellation down the road, but made clear that it believes it is too early to make any definitive calls on the event: “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.”
  • The IOC expressed confidence that the spread of the novel 2019 coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness will be contained, allowing the Olympics to continue.
  • The release also touts some early tweaks to Olympic preparations, including changes to Olympic test events, adaptations of the Olympic torch relay, and adjustments to the “Games preparation supply chain.”
  • The IOC also mentions that it has “alternative plans” in place to deal with “anticipated disruption.”
  • One more interesting figure from the release: the IOC says at present, 57% of athletes are already qualified for the 2020 Olympics, and that it will work with federations to adapt qualifying criteria where needed for the remaining 43%.


The full IOC press release is below:

Today, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continued its consultations with all the stakeholders of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The first took place with the International Olympic Summer Sports Federations. Those with the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the athletes’ representatives, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), other International Federations (IFs) and other stakeholders will follow in the coming days.

This communique* sets out the principles established by the IOC Executive Board (EB), together with their implementation in cooperation with all the stakeholders concerned. The IOC will continue to act as a responsible organisation. In this context, the IOC asks all its stakeholders within their own remits to do everything to contribute to the containment of the virus.


This is an unprecedented situation for the whole world, and our thoughts are with all those affected by this crisis. We are in solidarity with the whole of society to do everything to contain the virus.

The situation around the COVID-19 virus is also impacting the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and is changing day by day.

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.

The IOC encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as best they can. We will keep supporting the athletes by consulting with them and their respective NOCs, and by providing them with the latest information and developments, which are accessible for athletes worldwide on the Athlete365 website and via their respective NOCs and IFs.

The IOC has confidence that the many measures being taken by many authorities around the world will help contain the situation of the COVID-19 virus. In this context, the IOC welcomes the support of the G7 leaders as expressed by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who said: “I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics perfectly, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G-7 leaders.”

We will continue to act in a responsible way and have agreed the following overriding principles about the staging of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020:

1. To protect the health of everyone involved and to support the containment of the virus.

2. To safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport.

The IOC will continue to monitor the situation 24/7. Already in mid-February, a task force was set up consisting of the IOC, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The purpose of the task force is to ensure coordinated actions by all stakeholders. It has the mission to keep a constant appraisal of the situation to form the basis for the ongoing operational planning and necessary adaptations. The task force also monitors the implementation of the various actions decided. The IOC will continue to follow the guidance of this task force. The IOC’s decision will not be determined by financial interests, because thanks to its risk management policies and insurance it will in any case be able to continue its operations and accomplish its mission to organise the Olympic Games.

A number of measures have been taken.

The format of all the test events in March and April has been altered to allow for the testing of essential Games elements; the lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece and subsequent elements of the Torch Relay in Japan are being adapted; the entire Games preparation supply chain has been analysed; and alternative plans are in place in the event of anticipated disruption.

At the same time, the topics and issues which were identified by the IOC Coordination Commission for the Games as priorities continue to retain the full attention of Tokyo 2020, the IOC and the Olympic stakeholders. In this respect, work is ongoing for the preparation of athletics road events in Sapporo; heat countermeasures continue to be detailed and refined on a sport-by-sport basis; and transport and crowd movement planning remain a key focus of attention.

Concerning the next meetings, especially the upcoming Coordination Commission visit and various project reviews, adjustments have been made to the agenda and participation. While the activities remain planned on the same dates, the participation in Tokyo will be reduced while ensuring the Coordination Commission members can attend the most important part of the meeting by teleconference. The same will be done for any subsequent visits until further notice.

The day-to-day work between all organisations continues, although on a remote basis.

Currently, all Olympic Movement stakeholders and the athletes face significant challenges around securing the final qualification places for the Games. In some countries, athletes are even finding it hard to continue their regular training schedules. The IOC is reassured by the solidarity and flexibility shown by the athletes, the IFs and the NOCs, that are managing these challenges across a number of sports.

To date, 57 per cent of the athletes are already qualified for the Games. For the remaining 43 per cent of places, the IOC will work with the IFs to make any necessary and practical adaptations to their respective qualification systems for Tokyo 2020, in line with the following principles:

1. All quota places that have already been allocated to date remain allocated to the NOCs and athletes that obtained them.

2. The possibility remains to use existing and scheduled qualification events, wherever these still have fair access for all athletes and teams.

3. All necessary adaptations to qualification systems and all allocation of remaining places will be:

a) based on on-field results (e.g. IF ranking or historical results); and

b) reflect where possible the existing principles of the respective qualification systems (e.g. use of rankings or continental/regional specific event results).

Any increase in athlete quotas will be considered on a case-by-case basis under exceptional circumstances, with the support of the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020.

The IFs will make proposals for any adaptations to their respective qualification systems based on the principles outlined above. The adaptations need to be implemented sport by sport because of the differences between qualification systems. The IOC has already put in place an accelerated procedure to solve this situation. Any necessary revisions to the Tokyo 2020 qualification systems by sport will be published by the beginning of April 2020 and communicated to all stakeholders.

IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The health and well-being of all those involved in the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is our number-one concern. All measures are being taken to safeguard the safety and interests of athletes, coaches and support teams. We are an Olympic community; we support one another in good times and in difficult times. This Olympic solidarity defines us as a community.”

The President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), Francesco Ricci Bitti, added: “I would like to thank all those involved in the organisation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and all the athletes and the International Federations for their great flexibility. We share the same approach and the same principles as the IOC, and we are as committed as the IOC to successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. We will keep in touch and have further consultations with all stakeholders concerned.”

After its consultations with the IFs, the IOC will follow up with the NOCs and the athletes’ representatives in the coming days.

* This communique was unanimously approved by the IOC EB and all Olympic Summer Sports Federations.

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1 year ago

Someone needs to think about the athletes involved, and as is usually the case, the IOC is clearly NOT!
There is so much stress and pressure on these athletes and coaches to make life decisions while attempting to maintain/alter a regular training schedule when cities, clubs and colleges are closing facilities. Can the IOC please put athletes first?

Reply to  Mike
1 year ago

I think they are putting them first. the athletes and Tokyo have the most to lose with a cancellation. The following article ( clearly states why postponement might not be possible. What happens is up in the air. The next two months will tell

1 year ago

UEFA moved their champions and Europa league cups later in the spring (may-June) and as result the euro to next June and July. As result of that CONMEBOL moved copa America to next summer as well. It looks like the IOC and TOGOC are committed to pull this off this summer one way or another. Fingers crossed as they say.

1 year ago

Good decision. No need to panic.

1 year ago

Oh Samuel Huntington, you’re clueless

Reply to  Olympian
1 year ago

Oh come on, you need a better insult than that 🙂

I think this is too big to postpone or cancel. I think it is prudent to move forward. While not ideal, I think it is the best course of action.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Olympian
1 year ago

No, he’s just already stockpiled toilet paper for a year.

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

I haven’t bought any toilet paper. Like I already said, no need to panic.

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
1 year ago

Get used to using corn cobs again

1 year ago

As an international swimmer aiming to qualify for the Olympics this summer, I am terrified. After having one of the best winter training blocks of my life, I am suddenly left without a pool to train in and all the qualifying meets I had planned to attend are canceled. And it’s not just me! Countless others, the 43% mentioned in this article, are left without pools in a sport where you NEED a pool to swim in to stay competitive. Swimmers finally understand the meaning of equity in sport when famous or rich athletes can continue training in their back yards or private pools, giving themselves the competitive advantage. The IOC needs to postpone the games and give athletes some… Read more »

Swammer from Wakanda
Reply to  swimmerback
1 year ago

The 57% of athletes already selected are all athletes across all sports. In the swimming world, there are definitely no more than 30% already qualified. So many trials postponed. This is going to be a weird time for everyone.

Reply to  Swammer from Wakanda
1 year ago

That is incorrect as the qualifying period started last year. The significant majority are qualified just in the more competitive nations like the US or Australia there is a trials to weed it down to the top two as that is the max per country for each event (–_Qualification#Qualifying_standards)

Reply to  swimmerback
1 year ago

In Greece we are in the middle of this crisis.everything is shout a coach with swimmers preparing for the olympic trials on May we ve been out of the pool for over a week and with no even land facilities open .we have no answer to give to the swimmers when the swimming pools will open and with the public opinion against as if we ask an exception to open a facility with all these danger around as.please dont take this as a complain but as a reality that we live here.IOC must take in consider how difficult things are for many athletes around the world in the sport we love .

1 year ago

Blackflag. Let’s cancel our bet on MA making the Olympics for this cycle. I still believe that he will make the Olympics if there is an Olympic trial, but I’m getting more pessimistic that the Olympic Trials will happen.

Reply to  Mustangswimdad
1 year ago

I’m down with cancelling it. At this point there are just too many unknowns.

Reply to  Blackflag82
1 year ago


1 year ago

that’s pathetic. the world is in shutdown mode and it’s going to last for months.. we all know the olympics arent going to happen in july, that’s for sure.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  pau88
1 year ago

It’s not happening in July. I’m amazed anyone is still holding onto that departure from the real world…the very real world where lives are at stake. The swimmer who posted above had the correct postponement conclusion but for all the wrong reasons. Not one direct mention of the virus in that emotional post. Focus outward then work toward your own selfish interests.

1 year ago

I have been doing squats in my bedroom and I have a tissue ready so I can avoid any viruses. Nothing can stop me now thanks IOC

European Swim Fan
1 year ago

In my opinion, there is no way the Olympics will take place. Not only because of the event itself, in the best case the Virus will decrease by then. But the Olympics is also about the preparation and the excitement of trials and other qualifications. All those ingredients of a good Olympic year are already heavily affected and will be for months. Making the athletes prepare with fear and under threatening conditions is not a good option. Postpone or cancel Olympics is a terrible thing, but to make them happen under these circumstances seems to be even worse.

Reply to  European Swim Fan
1 year ago

I agree. Even if the virus has decreased by then, what better way to get it ramped up all over again than to have people from all the world converge to one area.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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