Another IOC official points to May deadline for Olympics, says virus peak must be over by then

French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia said on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic needed to be beyond its peak by the end of May for the Tokyo Olympics to go according to schedule.

French Olympic president doesn't see how Games can happen if 'we're still in crisis'

The International Olympic Committee will have discussions with international sports organizations on Tuesday in the wake of the virus outbreak. (AFP via Getty Images)

French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia said on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic needed to be beyond its peak by the end of May for the Tokyo Olympics to go according to schedule.

"My feeling is that if we're still in the crisis by the end of May I can't see how the Games can happen [on time]," Masseglia told Reuters.

"If we are beyond the peak and the situation is getting better questions will rise about who qualifies, but we will find the least worst solution."

Montreal's Dick Pound, a former IOC vice-president, said in an interview with The Associated Press last month that the end of May loomed as a possible deadline for the IOC to make a call on the Tokyo Olympics.

On Sunday, John Coates, the leader of the IOC's co-ordination commission, said there is no May deadline to cancel the Games and he remains confident the event will go ahead.

"It's all proceeding to start on the 24th of July," Coates told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

The IOC will hold talks with heads of international sports organizations on Tuesday in response to the coronavirus outbreak, a source close to an international federation briefed on the issue said.

The IOC will also hold an unscheduled executive board meeting via teleconferencing on Tuesday to internally discuss the latest developments, another source said.

A source within the Olympic movement told Reuters no decision was expected on Tuesday by the executive board. Masseglia said that the IOC will hold a conference call with the National Olympic Committees on Wednesday.

With less than five months to go until the scheduled start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on July 24, questions have been raised as to whether the Games can go ahead.

The virus has wreaked havoc on the global sporting calendar, leading to some Olympic qualification events being cancelled or postponed and concern has been rising about whether the entire Games should be scrapped or postponed.

However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Tokyo 2020 organizers have reiterated that preparations are going on for the Games to be held as planned.

Abe says Games would be victory over virus

Abe told parliament on Monday he wanted the Tokyo Games to represent a world's victory over the coronavirus pandemic, Kyodo newswire reported.

According to a telephone poll conducted by Kyodo, however, Abe's fellow citizens are less optimistic about prospects for the Games, with 69 per cent of respondents saying they did not think Tokyo would be able to host the gathering as planned.

Kyodo did not say how many people were questioned in the survey.

The IOC, asked about a report by Japanese public broadcaster NHK that talks on the impact of the coronavirus were scheduled for Tuesday, said they were a regular part of dialog with stakeholders.

"Since this situation started to develop some weeks ago, the IOC is constantly updating its stakeholders on the latest developments," the IOC said in a statement to Reuters.

"The calls are part of this regular information sharing process."

Changes to qualification process

IOC sports director Kit McConnell discussed changes to qualification processes with various international sporting federations last week.

The IOC had established an Implementation Group to "act quickly, where necessary, on behalf of the IOC executive board to approve the necessary changes to the qualification systems," McConnell said in a letter to federations.

The letter, dated March 9, was seen by Reuters.

Changes could include the extension of qualification periods, but not beyond June 30, the re-assignment of quota allocations and the removal of certain eligibility criteria.

It is not known whether further changes to the qualification process would be discussed at the IOC executive board meeting.

Several qualifying events, including those for climbing, boxing, fencing and judo have been cancelled or postponed, leaving athletes in the lurch about how and when they will be able to qualify for the Olympics.

with files from Associated Press


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