05.09.2018, Tokyo, Japan: The logo for the Tokyo 2
The logo for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics: (Photo by Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)
  • Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto said while speaking to Parliament that the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed until the end of 2020 because of the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.
  • Hashimoto said the Olympic contract calls for the games to take place in 2020, meaning it could be interpreted as allowing for a postponement.
  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that they are planning to go forward with the games as scheduled, though one longtime member said they might have to decide whether or not to cancel the games by May.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

As Olympic organisers wait to see how the spread of the novel coronavirus plays out, Japan's Olympic minister suggested the games could be delayed until the end of 2020, according to Deadline.

While speaking to Parliament on Tuesday, Seiko Hashimoto said that the contract calls for Tokyo to hold the game in 2020, suggesting the games could be postponed until the end of the year. The Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 24.

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said the organisation is "fully committed" to having the games go on as scheduled.

Longtime IOC member Dick Pound first raised red flags in late February when he told The Associated Press that organisers probably have until May to decide whether to go through with the games or cancel them. Pound said that delaying the games would be too complicated because of international schedules, from sports to broadcasting.

"You just don't postpone something on the size and scale of the Olympics," Pound told The AP. "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."

The Covid-19 virus has now infected more than 90,000 people and killed 3,000 worldwide. The virus has spread to at least 70,000 countries.

Already some major sporting events have been affected. Japan's professional baseball league announced it would play its remaining preseason games in empty stadiums to try to prevent the spread of the virus. Several top-flight Italian matches were played in empty stadiums. The Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled for April 17-19, has been postponed.

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