Lausanne (AFP) - The Swiss National Olympic Committee on Monday asked that this summer’s Tokyo Games be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, an eye-catching request from a country that houses the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee and several sporting federations.
“Given the current situation, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics should be postponed,” the Swiss NOC said in a statement released after a decision by its executive board.
“Athletes are presently suffering from tough training conditions. In addition, certain countries have now cancelled their participation at the Olympics,” the NOC said in reference to Australia and Canada.
It added: “Under these conditions, we don’t think it is possible to organise a global and fair Olympic Games in the sense of the Olympic movement.”
“That is why we applied (to the IOC) for a postponement,” Swiss Olympic president Juerg Stahl said.
The Tokyo Games are scheduled to run between July 24-August 9, but Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe admitted Monday that “it may become inevitable that we make a decision to postpone”.
The comments were his first acknowledging the possibility that the Games may not open as scheduled on July 24 as the coronavirus continues to spread across the world.
Overnight, the IOC also shifted its tone on the Games, saying it would step up planning for different scenarios, including postponement.
“Cancellation is not an option,” Abe said, echoing comments from IOC chief Thomas Bach, who ruled out scrapping the Games, saying it “would not solve any problem and would help nobody”.
Swiss Olympic chief Stahl acknowledged the “great difficulty of the IOC’s decision”, adding he was “certain that the final IOC decision will be taken in the interest of the athletes, international sport and Olympic movement”.