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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on March 24)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:18 March 24, 2020

Postpone Tokyo Olympics
:Nothing is more important than safety

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has finally acknowledged the need to postpone the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9, as the spread of COVID-19 worldwide has largely disrupted preparations in Japan and other countries. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said for the first time Monday that a postponement would be unavoidable if the games cannot be held "in a complete way."

It is fortunate to see an exit plan finally being discussed by the IOC and the host country as the COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the globe. Their coordinated move to push back the Games ― albeit belatedly ― will hopefully ease confusion about the fate of the Tokyo Olympics and relieve the burden on countries in their fight against the coronavirus. But the games have not yet been postponed officially. Given the grim reality that going ahead with the Olympics as scheduled is considered neither feasible nor desirable by most athletes and fans around the world in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, a decision should be made as quickly as possible.

Both the IOC and Japanese organizers said cancelling the Games was not under consideration, but they apparently see postponing as a viable option. The IOC said it will take about four weeks to make a decision on whether to delay the Olympics because it requires consultations with the Japanese authorities, global sports officials, broadcasters and sponsors. But it is obvious that these consultations should have already taken place considering what is occurring around the world. The IOC's latest explanation means the world must wait four more weeks until the IOC comes up with a decision. In other words, there will be no end to controversies over the fate of the Tokyo Olympics during this period.

All this gives the impression that the IOC is ignorant of reality ― and irresponsible. In a letter to athletes, IOC President Thomas Bach said the IOC was taking a "rational" approach, and "this may not be in line with the emotions many of you have to go through." We wonder how many will agree with his assertion that the IOC's response to COVID-19 has been rational.

The point is that a safe and secure opening of the Tokyo Olympics is now all but impossible. The COVID-19 crisis have delayed or cancelled many qualifying events for the Olympics and disrupted the training of athletes as many countries have barred people from gyms and other workout venues.

On Sunday, Canada announced it won't send athletes to Tokyo unless the games are postponed by a year, becoming the first country to threaten such a move. It said it was unsafe for athletes to continue training as it runs counter to the public health advice which all Canadians should follow.

The situation is not different in other countries. If the Olympics are all about pursuing excellence, the Tokyo Olympics, if held as scheduled, would be recorded as a fiasco. The Games should not be held at the cost of the athletes' safety.

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