You asked: Is the 2020 Olympics cancelled?

COVID-19 has not yet forced the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but qualification will be affected.

Japan Olympic Committee’s deputy chief, Kozo Tashima, revealed on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as doubts mount over whether the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will go ahead.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released also released a statement on Tuesday, 17 March, revealing they had no plans to cancel or postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the current time.

“The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive,” the statement said.

Denis Masseglia, head of the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) had told Reuters on Monday that if the Covid-19 crisis was not on the wane by May, he felt the Olympics would need to be postponed.

Masseglia did add, however, that he was awaiting further information from the IOC at the time.

Will the 2020 Tokyo Olympics still happen?

The IOC claimed to have the support of world leaders in their decision not to postpone the Olympics just yet. Their statement said: “The IOC has confidence that the many measures being taken by many authorities around the world will help contain the situation of the COVID-19 virus.

“In this context, the IOC welcomes the support of the G7 leaders as expressed by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who said: ‘I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics perfectly, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G-7 leaders.’”

COVID-19 will impact Olympic qualification

The IOC has admitted that qualification for the 2020 Olympics could be affected by the coronavirus. They believe that where there is doubt, rankings systems and historical results can be used to determine the most suitable athletes to compete in Tokyo.

They said in their statement: “To date, 57 per cent of the athletes are already qualified for the Games. For the remaining 43 per cent of places, the IOC will work with the IFs to make any necessary and practical adaptations to their respective qualification systems for Tokyo 2020, in line with the following principles:

  1. All quota places that have already been allocated to date remain allocated to the NOCs and athletes that obtained them.
  2. The possibility remains to use existing and scheduled qualification events, wherever these still have fair access for all athletes and teams.
  3. All necessary adaptations to qualification systems and all allocation of remaining places will be:
  • a) based on on-field results (e.g. IF ranking or historical results); and
  • b) reflect where possible the existing principles of the respective qualification systems (e.g. use of rankings or continental/regional specific event results).”

Current scheduled dates for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

As of today, 18 March, the 2020 Olympics are scheduled to start on 24 July and end on 9 August. Preliminary events for football and softball are set to begin on 22 July.

You Asked is a series of articles which answers some of the internet’s most burning questions. You can read the full series here.

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Leonard Solms
Leonard Solms is a freelance South African multi-sport journalist who has written for a number of regional, national and international newspapers and websites. He won a Rhodes-Investec Top 100 Award in 2018, the year in which he completed his Bachelor of Journalism at Rhodes University.