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Olympics Official Says He Would ‘Mortgage The Farm’ That Games Will Be Postponed

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Photo by Jae C. Hong AP

On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee said that it was starting to look into scenarios for "modifying" the current plans for the games, which are scheduled to start on July 24 in Tokyo.

Updated 3:5o p.m. ET

International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound says he believes the Tokyo Summer Olympics will be postponed because of the coronavirus crisis.

Pound, a longtime and influential IOC official, says the details have not yet been finalized. But he tells NPR's Tom Goldman that he would "mortgage the farm" that the 2020 Games will be pushed back.

"They have to discuss very carefully and very thoroughly with the Tokyo organizers and the Japanese government," he says, adding that there are "an awful lot of moving parts that have to be taken into account if you're postponing something as incredibly interconnected as the Olympic Games."

Pound says that issues to work out include whether the facilities for the Games will still be available, whether other sporting events can be shifted, and whether the cost for postponing the Games would be shared.

He adds that it's become clear that the pandemic "is not going to go away in a matter of the few months that we hoped might be the case if it had been controlled."

This would be the first time the Games have ever been postponed. Previously the Games were canceled in 1916 for World War I, and in 1940 and 1944 during World War II.

Calls have been building for the IOC to push back the Games. Many athletes say they have had trouble training normally under current restrictions, and qualifying events in some sports have been canceled.

Canada has said it will not send its athletes to the Olympics or Paralympics this summer. Australia told its athletes to prepare to participate in the Olympics in 2021. In the United States, USA Swimming and USA Track and Field have called on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to ask the IOC to delay the games. So far, the USOPC has not done that.

On Sunday, the IOC said it was starting to look into scenarios for "modifying" the current plans for the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24.

The IOC's executive board said for the first time publicly that it was considering postponement, but also said that "a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody."

"Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda," the IOC stressed in a statement.

On Monday, after months of insisting that the Olympics would go on as planned, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conceded that it was possible the games might be postponed.

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