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Pretty much everyone looks forward to the pageantry and good, old fashioned competition that the Olympics bring every time the games come around, and the hopes for this year's summer Olympics in Tokyo are no different. But, now we're hearing that the 2020 games are in jeopardy, because the spreading coronavirus might shut things down.
International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound, who spoke to the Associated Press, said that if the coronavirus isn't under control in Tokyo within the next three months (at most), the games will likely be cancelled. Here's what he had to say on the matter:
In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: 'Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?' 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. You’re probably looking at a cancellation.
You're probably wondering why the IOC would rather cancel the 2020 Olympics than simply move them to another location, use several other locations or delay them by a few months to give Tokyo more time, but Dick Pound says that the matter isn't as simple as it may appear to someone who isn't involved in preparing a country for the games.
Pound, who is currently the IOC's longest-serving member and a former Canadian swimming champion, says that moving the Olympics to another country would be incredibly difficult. As he mentioned in his comment above, a lot of preparations have already been made in Tokyo to handle the influx of people expected to attend the games, not to mention housing, feeding and protecting the 11,000 athletes who are training to get their shot at the gold.
The city has been working on all of this since the last Olympics, so the idea of just moving everything to another country or delaying is nearly impossible at such a late date. According to Pound:
You just don’t postpone something on the size and scale of the Olympics. There’s so many moving parts, so many countries and different seasons, and competitive seasons, and television seasons. You can’t just say, `We’ll do it in October.’ It would be tough to get the kind of blanket coverage that people expect around the Olympic Games.
What Dick Pound is saying about TV coverage adds another wrinkle to an already difficult situation should the Tokyo Olympics need to be cancelled. The Summer Olympics are the Summer Olympics for a reason, and every broadcaster around the world has already set the schedule for coverage of the games from July 24 - August 9.
Just looking at North American broadcasting, we can already see conflicts with scripted fall television premieres, football, Major League Baseball and The World series. And, every other part of the world which airs the Olympics will likely already have packed schedules that will need serious shuffling should the games be delayed, even if only for a couple of months.
As far as potentially spreading the games around the world and having specific sports in certain locations, Pound says that that's a no-go as well. While it would allow for each country to shoulder less of the burden on such a short notice, it would be a logistical nightmare, not to mention the fact that sports spread all over the world wouldn't "constitute an Olympic Games," seeing as how part of the thrill of watching the Olympics is seeing everyone come together in one spot.
Clearly, for many reasons, we should hope that every part of the world which has seen cases of the coronavirus can get it under control before much longer. After starting in China two months ago, it's infected more than 80,000 worldwide and killed over 2,700, mostly in China. Japan has had four people die from the virus, so it makes sense to monitor the situation closely before letting the Olympics continue. Pound does have some hopeful words for the athletes, though:
As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo. 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.
Obviously, you can stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, whether the games go on as planned or not. In the meantime, you can see what to watch on TV right now with our 2020 premiere guide.