The Olympics could be postponed or cancelled.

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Canada and Australia have formally withdrawn from participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as planned, and it appears possible that the Olympic Games are set to be either postponed to cancelled entirely on the basis of the global Chinese Coronavirus epidemic.

Canada nor Australia will not be participating in the games if they’re held at all this year, with the Olympic committees of the two nations ruling out participating at all if they’re held in 2020. This may force Japanese authorities to move the games to 2021 if they plan on hosting them after all.

An Olympic tournament ultimately would prove to be a considerable threat for global spread of the disease. The games always involve a considerable deal of global travel, and it’s almost a certainty the movement of hundreds of thousands of people for the games would bring home the coronavirus when they return home.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged the possibility that the games may not occur as planned as a result of the pandemic on Sunday. He forcefully rejected the notion of having to cancel them outright, stating such a possibility was “not an option.” The opportunity to host an Olympic tournament is highly coveted by the nations of the world, and it’s not surprising that Japan doesn’t want to consider cancelling the games at this point.

The Internation Olympic Committee is said to be in intense deliberation over the planning for the event. It’s hard to imagine a structure for the games that would be isolated from the coronavirus threat.

The games have only been wholly cancelled three times since their inception- all during World Wars I and II.

If the coronavirus epidemic truly does result in the postponement or cancellation of the Olympics, it would likely solidify the virus’ place in world history as a truly massive event.