The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are expected to be postponed, most likely to 2021, with details to be worked out in the next four weeks, long-time International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today Monday afternoon.
"On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided," Pound, a Canadian, told the national newspaper in a phone interview. "The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know."
Pound, described as "one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades," said he believes the IOC will announce its next steps soon.
"It will come in stages," he said. "We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense."
The 2020 Olympics in flux
Pound's pronouncement is the latest news in a rapidly-changing situation regarding whether the 2020 Games would get underway in four months because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.
Over the weekend, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board announced it would be considering the possibility of delaying the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, while Team Canada and the Australian Olympic Committee have revealed they won't be sending any of its athletes -- including wrestlers -- to this year's Games, which are slated to open four months from now.
The IOC statement said, in part, "To safeguard the health of all involved and to contribute to the containment of COVID-19 coronavirus, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced the IOC will step up its scenario-planning for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020."
Before Pound's statement, the Olympic committees of two major nations -- Canada, and Australia -- both reported they would not be participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
According to a a statement issued Sunday, March 22, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), backed by their Athletes' Commissions, National Sports Organizations and the Government of Canada, announced that they "have made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020."
The statement goes on to say, "What's more, the COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year and we offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring. While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community."
The Team Canada announcement meant that wrestlers from Canada would not be competing at the 2020 Tokyo Games, per an announcement issued by Wrestling Canada Lutte Monday.
"Wrestling Canada Lutte supports the decision made by the Canadian Olympic Committee to not send athletes to the Olympic Games in summer 2020 due to COVID-19 risks. The safety of our athletes and wrestling community is our top priority. We have discussed the implications of this decision with our Olympic Trials winners and coaches, and our Board of Directors.
Hours after Canada had revealed its plans to pull out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Australia announced similar intentions, as the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it had told its athletes to prepare for a Tokyo Games taking place in 2021, CNBC reported Monday.
"The AOC (Executive Board) unanimously agreed that an Australian team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad," read the statement.
"The AOC believes our athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their national federations."
Australian team chef de Mission Ian Chesterman added his voice to the discussion: "It's clear the Games can't be held in July."
"Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging."