While the rest of the sporting world is grinding to a halt amidst the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is still on, for now.
Japan’s top spokesman and chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, confirmed that it’s full-speed ahead for the Games, which are poised to take place from July 24-Aug. 9.
“We’re not making any adjustments to postpone the Games,” Suga said (h/t Reuters).
It remains to be seen if spectators would be allowed in the Olympic venues.
Japan’s tone comes in stark contrast of other major sporting leagues and competitions over recent weeks.
In North America, major active professional sports leagues such as Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, and MLS have postponed and halted play for the foreseeable future.
The NCAA Tournament — college basketball’s championship — was completely canceled.
Elsewhere, major soccer leagues across Europe and South America including England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga have also been suspended.
With those leagues usually wrapping up in May, organizers were forced to postpone Euro 2020 and Copa America — the continental championships of Europe and South America — until next summer.
“Yesterday, we spoke to the IOC committee and we confirmed that we will have the Olympics and Paralympics as planned,” chief executive of the organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, said. “That decision has been agreed upon with all international federations.”
It’s a presumptuous decision considering the unpredictability of the novel coronavirus, whose numbers continue to rise in major countries around the world.
Japan has seen its positive cases rise severely over the past 12 days, increasing from 348 on March 6 to 868 on Wednesday, per Statista.com.
More than 8,200 people have died and another 200,000-plus have been infected around the world.
That naturally has created concerns among the IOC, including Hayley Wickenheiser.
“This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics. Athletes can’t train. Attendees can’t travel plan. Sponsors and marketers can’t market with a degree of sensitivity,” she wrote in a tweet Tuesday. “I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity.”
An estimated 11,000 participants will take part in the Games and approximately 57% of them have already clinched their spots through qualification, per Reuters.