Among growing criticism and pressure on all sides, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to postpone this summer’s Olympic Games – a decision that, up until yesterday morning, wasn’t expected to come for another month. However, realizing the significance of an imminent decision, IOC executive member Richard “Dick” Pound announced yesterday that they have officially decided to postpone the games in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Olympic Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know,” Pound said. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
It’s unclear when officials will reschedule the 2020 Olympic Games, which were initially set for July 24 to August 9, in Tokyo, Japan.
Prior to yesterday’s decision, a couple of major Commonwealth countries, Canada and Australia, had both pulled out due to risks associated with the coronavirus outbreak. The COVID-19 coronavirus which surfaced in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, has now spread to 195 countries and territories worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a pandemic on March 11, about four and a half months ahead of the summer Olympics.
Remaining steadfast, Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Romell Knowles said that they were monitoring the situation closely and they would have decided on Team Bahamas’ participation in due time. Be that as it may, Knowles said that under no circumstances would the health of the Bahamian athletes, coaches, team officials and fans have been compromised.
“First of all, let me say that at no time did we question the leadership of the International Olympic Committee. Notwithstanding receiving no official communication from the IOC, we never thought they would have put the athletes and everyone connected with the Olympic Games in harm’s way and that they would have made the best decision with the health of all involved, and the public at large, at the forefront. We fully support the decision. When you look at all of the uncertainty with the games going on, with countries and territories closing their borders and putting quarantine measures in place, this postponement was the best-case scenario. Collectively, we have to present the safest platform as possible for our athletes to compete.”
Earlier, Knowles had said that they trusted the IOC to make the right decision in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“Well, we recognized that they would not have put any athlete from around the world in harm’s way. Regardless, it was always our intention to have the best interest of The Bahamas, the athletes and the Bahamian contingent at the forefront.”
Neither Canada nor Australia were taking any chances as they announced their withdrawals prior to Monday afternoon’s decision. Another Commonwealth country, New Zealand, had written the IOC asking for a quick decision, and major sports bodies around the globe, including World Athletics, USA Swimming and USA Track and Field, had come forward and asked for a postponement.
President of the United States Donald Trump has suggested officials reschedule the Olympic Games for next year. Other countries and sports bodies are suggesting 2021 as well. Pound also suggested 2021.
The 2020 Summer Games is the latest major sporting event to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands across the globe. Latest reports state more than 367,000 cases worldwide and more than 16,000 deaths.