Tokyo 2020 organizers have started drafting possible alternatives to holding the Olympics this summer, two sources familiar with the talks said, in contrast to the Japanese government’s stance that postponement is not an option.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted sports events around the world, Japan has been steadfast in saying that the Games would go on.
A Japanese government spokesman on Wednesday said that Tokyo was not preparing for postponement.
“Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement,” said one of the sources, an official close to the organizing committee who is involved in drafting the scenarios.
Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
“We are making alternative plans — plan B, C, D — looking at different postponement timeframes,” the first official said, adding that the scenarios included cost estimates for delays.
Neither Tokyo 2020 organizers nor the International Olympic Committee (IOC) immediately responded to a request for comment.
The government of Japan could not be reached for comment.
The options, which include scaling back the Games or holding them without spectators, would be debated by the organizing committee this month, the official said.
The second source, who is also close to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, confirmed that postponement was being discussed, including delays of one or two years.
Some organizing staff were holding out hope for a delay of a month or 45 days, said the second official, who is involved in drafting the scenarios.
Meanwhile, athletes and sports bodies around the world are calling for a postponement.
In the US, sports officials are facing a growing rebellion inside their ranks about the Games.
USA Track and Field chief executive officer Max Siegel joined USA Swimming in calling on the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to advocate a delay.
Track and field, and swimming accounted for 65 of the US’ 121 medals and 175 of the nation’s 554 athletes at the previous Summer Games and Siegel said his organization urged “the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes.”
USOPC board member and Olympic champion bobsledder Steve Mesler wrote in a blog post on Friday that the IOC “has not shown the leadership we Olympians desire out of those who are in charge.
Mesler said that these were his thoughts “as an Olympian and not those of the USOPC, its board of directors or its leaders.”
Other national committees are also calling on the IOC to act.
The federations in Norway and Brazil went public with requests to postpone the Games.
“Our clear recommendation is that the Olympic Games in Tokyo shall not take place before the COVID-19 situation is under firm control on a global scale,” Norway’s federation wrote in a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach.
Additional reporting by AP
Some Indian athletes have joined the calls, saying they have no access to training facilities because of lockdowns.
“As an athlete, I obviously want the Olympics to happen, but it should not happen,” local media quoted Indian table tennis player Sharath Kamal as telling the Press Trust of India. “The epicenter of the virus will keep changing, first it was China, now it is Italy, and Iran, too, is badly affected in Asia.”
“I don’t see the scenario being safe for the Olympics to start on time,” Kamal said.
“Everyone is talking about social distancing, but it is one thing which won’t be possible at the Olympics,” he said. “Thousands of athletes would be staying in the same village.”
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