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Tokyo 2020 organizing committee member calls for games to be delayed until 2022

Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games executive board member Haruyuki Takahashi. (Mainichi/Masahiro Ogawa)

TOKYO -- The Olympic and Paralympic Games should be postponed for two years due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, a Tokyo 2020 organizing committee member told the Mainichi Shimbun on March 24, calling a one-year delay "overly optimistic."

"More than 'athletes first,' we should be putting humanity first. Even if the games were put off for a year, there's a risk the coronavirus' spread may not have ended by then," said Haruyuki Takahashi, a Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games executive board member. "It would be difficult to postpone the games again, so there should be a two-year delay."

There are three delay scenarios currently being debated by the International Olympic Committee: holding the games this coming autumn, next year, or in 2022. The single-year delay is considered to have the upper hand due to several factors, including that World Athletics -- the association of the world's athletics federations -- is already considering rescheduling World Athletics Championships currently set for August 2021.

Takahashi, 75, said, "There are real worries that the virus will spread next through the Southern Hemisphere, so a one-year delay would be overly optimistic. By holding the Tokyo Games after the pandemic is over across the whole world, we can then have an Olympics that follows victory over the virus."

He added that he would make his opinion clear at the next organizing committee meeting on March 30.

Takahashi is a former executive director at advertising giant Dentsu Inc., and spent many years in the firm's sports section. He called for postponing Tokyo 2020 very early in the coronavirus crisis. He pointed out at the time that the 2021 "sporting event calendar is already fixed, so a two-year delay would make things smoother."

(Japanese original by Yuta Kobayashi, Sports News Department)

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