The longest-serving member of the IOC says there is a three month window before a decision has to be made on whether the Tokyo Olympics can be held as scheduled.
Dick Pound, in an interview with Gerard Farek from the Associated Press, says the coronavirus outbreak that is threatening to become a pandemic must be under control by late May for the Olympics to go ahead.
“A lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels. The media folks will be in there building their studios,” Pound said to the AP.
Pound also admitted that if the outbreak is not under control by late May, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation”.
So far, the IOC has been saying that the Games will go ahead as planned. It says it will follow the advice of the World Health Organization in making a final decision.
Pound made it clear on Tuesday that he wants the 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes to keep training.
“All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation.”
The coronavirus outbreak is already affecting preparations for the Games, with Olympic qualifying events among the nearly 100 sports events that have been cancelled, postponed or moved. Chinese athletes have been especially hard hit, since those training within China are not allowed to travel outside the country to compete. Other Chinese athletes who had already left the country before the travel ban are training in other countries rather than returning home.