With the announcement by WHO on 12 March 2020 in declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, qualification events for Tokyo 2020 have been impacted.

Given the challenges you’ll be confronted with as a result of this announcement, we are focused on assisting IFs and NOCs in addressing the difficulties you face.

Find out what we’re doing to help and read the full statement from the IOC in expressing its commitment to the success of the Games.

12 MARCH 2020

On 12 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that COVID-19 had become a pandemic due to the speed and scale of transmission rather than the severity of the disease. A pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”

You can find the full WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the Mission briefing on COVID-19 from 12 March 2020 here.

Tokyo 2020 qualification system impacts

We understand the significant challenges you face, particularly in terms of travel regulations and the varying restrictions on the organisation of events which continue to change daily.

As a result, we are focused on assisting IFs and NOCs to address any challenges they may have with Olympic qualification events. Our goal is to help find consistent and credible solutions to replace any missed opportunities for qualification you may have had.

In doing so, we want to ensure you have fair access to qualification events and for qualification to take place on the field of play, including supporting IFs to create fair alternatives to lost qualification opportunities. We are therefore working closely with IFs to approve any necessary changes to the dates and locations of events and any necessary adaptations to the qualification systems.

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Following the lighting of the Olympic Flame in Olympia today, the IOC confirmed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Please see the full statement below:

We remain absolutely in line with our Japanese hosts in our commitment to delivering safe Olympic Games in July.

At the same time, the world is facing challenges that are also impacting sport. But with 19 weeks [at the time of writing] before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo

2020, the many measures being taken now by authorities all around the world give us confidence and keep us fully committed to delivering Olympic Games that can bring the world together in peace.

The IOC is proud of the solidarity and flexibility shown by the athletes, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees, which are managing challenges with the qualification system in a number of sports. We are addressing them together. The IOC is cooperating closely with all those concerned and demonstrating all the flexibility needed to adapt the qualification systems. We are also working with all other stakeholders (including Rights-Holding Broadcasters and sponsors) in order to address the current situation.

We remain in close contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee through our joint task force, which was set up in mid-February. The IOC will continue to follow the advice of WHO, as the leading United Nations agency on this topic.

On-going communication

As part of our ongoing efforts to keep you informed and as up-to-date as possible on the impact of COVID-19, the IOC will continue to publish the latest information and advice for athletes here.

Additionally, the IOC Athletes’ Commission will host the next conference call with the Global Network of Athletes’ Commissions on 18 March 2020 from 2-3 pm CET and will be focused exclusively on COVID-19 and its impacts. A summary of the call will be made available on Athlete365.


Athlete safety is our number one priority ahead of Tokyo 2020, and we will be doing everything to ensure that the Games takes place in a secure environment.