International Olympic Committee 'remains fully committed to the Olympic Games' despite coronavirus

Every other sport may be delayed, postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus, but the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are still planning to go on as planned. The International Olympic Committee released a statement Tuesday saying it “remains fully committed to the Olympic Games” in 2020.

In that statement, the IOC encouraged Olympic athletes to continue training, and said its top priority is to “protect the health of everyone involved and to support the containment of the virus.” The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are expected to begin July 24.

We will continue to act in a responsible way and have agreed the following overriding principles about the staging of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020:

1. To protect the health of everyone involved and to support the containment of the virus.

2. To safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport.

That messaging is consistent with what IOC inspection team head John Coates said in February. At that time, Coates said the 2020 Tokyo Olympics remained “on track.”

The situation has changed since mid February. The growing threat of the coronavirus has caused countries to shut down. Leaders have asked citizens to self quarantine in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Large gatherings and sporting events have been banned in various cities in the United States — and in other countries. Despite all that, the IOC wants the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to go on.

What is the IOC doing to make sure the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are safe?

The IOC set up a task force in February to monitor the situation, and will rely on its guidance to get through the coming months. The IOC says its actions “will not be determined by financial interests.”

The IOC pointed to measures taken in the Olympic torch relay to prove they are taking the issue seriously. Some aspects of the torch relay will take place without fans. Organizers have asked fans not to gather in large groups to watch the events, and have said any spectator who feels sick should leave. Those participating in the torch relay will have their temperatures tested as well.

The IOC will look the implement similar actions in other areas. It noted that “transport and crowd movement planning remain a key focus of attention.”

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Tokyo prepares for 2020 Olympics as coronavirus spreads
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Tokyo prepares for 2020 Olympics as coronavirus spreads
A man looks at an Olympic rings display installed off the shore of the Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. - The International Olympic Committee is "committed" to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned despite the widening new coronavirus outbreak, the body's president has pledged. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 26: A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Concerns that the Tokyo Olympics may be postponed or cancelled are increasing as Japan confirms 862 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and as some professional sporting contests are being called off or rescheduled and some major Japanese corporations ask for people to work from home. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 24: Fireworks explode as Olympic rings are illuminated for the first time to mark 6 months to go to the Olympic games at Odaiba Marine Park on January 24, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The New National Stadium, a venue for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is seen from Shibuya Sky observation deck in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The Japanese government has indicated it sees the next couple of weeks as crucial to containing the spread of COVID-19, which began in China late last year. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Tourists take pictures of the Olympics rings Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in the Odaiba section of Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
People wait in line to take pictures with the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A woman removes her mask before taking pictures with the mascots of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, Feb. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach delivers a statement on the COVID-19 situation during a meeting of the executive board at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne on March 3, 2020. - The COVID-19 which has already killed more than 3000 people in the World will be at the center of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 3 and 4, 2020 in Lausanne less than five months before the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
A cameraman films the Olympic Rings at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne on March 3, 2020. - The COVID-19 which has already killed more than 3000 people in the World will be at the center of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 3 and 4, 2020 in Lausanne less than five months before the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 01: A security guard wearing a face mask guards a road near the route of the Tokyo Marathon on March 1, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. The 2020 Tokyo Marathon has been restricted to elite runners only as measures get underway in Japan to combat the Covid-19 virus. A growing number of events and sporting fixtures have been cancelled or postponed while some businesses are closing or asking their employees to work from home. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also asked schools to close for around a month from tomorrow as coronavirus cases increase and concerns mount over the effect the outbreak will have on the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
This photo taken on February 29, 2020 shows a protester holding placards during a demonstration against the Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and nuclear energy, near the "J-Village" which will host the start of the Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture. - Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said on February 26 the torch relay scheduled to begin March 26 in Fukushima and travel across the country would not be cancelled, though he acknowledged adjustments might be necessary, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
This photo taken on February 29, 2020 shows a woman holding a placard during a demonstration against the Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and nuclear energy, near the "J-Village" which will host the start of the Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture. - Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said on February 26 the torch relay scheduled to begin March 26 in Fukushima and travel across the country would not be cancelled, though he acknowledged adjustments might be necessary, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
A masked security guard stands in front an entrance of the National Stadium, venue of the upcoming Olympics, in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. - The International Olympic Committee is "committed" to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned despite the widening new coronavirus outbreak, the body's president has pledged. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 27: A couple wearing face masks take photographs outside the Tokyo Dome where a number of events including pop concerts have been cancelled because of concerns over the Covid-19 virus, on February 27, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. A growing number of events and sporting fixtures are being cancelled or postponed around Japan while some businesses are asking their employees to work from home and some schools are closing as Covid-19 cases continue to increase and concerns mount over the possibility that the epidemic will force the postponement or even cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
A picture taken on February 26, 2020 shows the Olympics rings next to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne. - The COVID-19 which has already killed more than 3000 people in the World will be at the center of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 3 and 4, 2020 in Lausanne less than five months before the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 26: A pedestrian wearing a face mask walks past a display promoting the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Concerns that the Tokyo Olympics may be postponed or cancelled are increasing as Japan confirms 862 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and as some professional sporting contests are being called off or rescheduled and some major Japanese corporations ask for people to work from home. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 26: A woman wearing a face mask uses a smartphone as she takes a photograph in front of the Olympic rings at night on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Concerns that the Tokyo Olympics may be postponed or cancelled are increasing as Japan confirms 862 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and as some professional sporting contests are being called off or rescheduled and some major Japanese corporations ask for people to work from home. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - 2020/02/25: view of barricades at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic / Paralympic Village construction site in Tokyo. After the events at the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Yokohama Harbour concerning the COVID-19 Coronavirus and the management of Japanese authorities, voices were raised if the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games should be relocated to a different country. Sparking a discussion internationally. (Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - 2020/02/17: Photos of women taken posing behind the Olympic Rings near the Japan Olympic Museum and the New National Stadium in Tokyo. The stadium will serve as the main stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies and for the track and field events at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. (Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A runner holding an Olympic torch practices lighting a cauldron during a rehearsal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch relay in Tokyo on February 15, 2020. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
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How does the IOC expect athletes to keep training for the 2020 Olympics?

Making sure athletes continue to train is going to be tough. Gyms in the United States have shut down over coronavirus concerns. On Monday, the White House recommended the public avoid groups of 10 or more people.

The IOC acknowledged training would be difficult for athletes right now, saying, “athletes are even finding it hard to continue their regular training schedules.” It did not recommend any specific steps athletes can take to remain safe amid the pandemic.

Will the 2020 Tokyo Olympics actually take place in July?

Though the IOC is committed to hosting the games as planned, it’s impossible to predict what will happen. Unless the coronavirus is eradicated by the time the 2020 Olympics are set to begin, hosting the event seems like a bad idea. Even in a situation where the Olympics are significantly pared down, it would be tough to hold events without large groups congregating. That would fly in the face of what many countries have recommended to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

With four months to go before the 2020 Olympics will begin, it’s possible things will change for the better and the Olympics will proceed as planned. Without significant progress over that period, however, it may not be worth the risk.

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