Tokyo Olympics 2020: NZ would consider Games boycott, hints NZOC president Mike Stanley

NZ Olympic Committee president Mike Stanley confirmed it would seriously consider boycotting the Tokyo Games, if the International Olympic Committee decided not to postpone.

On Monday (NZ time),  the International Olympic Committee announced it was stepping up its "scenario planning" for the 2020 Games - including a possible postponement - as the coronavirus pandemic spread.

In turn, Stanley has penned an open letter to all NZ athletes, reiterating the NZOC's focus is on their health and wellbeing, while urging the IOC to make a call on the Games' fate.

The IOC has committed to a four-week deadline to decide the way forward, but Stanley is adamant that postponement is the only one way to go.

"It's the only reasonable thing to do," Stanley tells Newshub.

"Naturally, we would have loved to see the Games go ahead in July. What's now transpiring is that doesn't look likely, so we need some certainty about when another Games could be held."

Stanley adds that, if the IOC decided to stick with its original July 24 start date, the NZOC would consider its options, if there were no guarantees of athlete welfare - a clear indication that it could boycott.

"We'd have to be completely reassured that our athletes were safe and well and that the competition had the integrity of the Olympic games. That's what we'd expect.

"If we didn't get that, we would certainly review our position."

Stanley expects a range of reactions from NZ athletes over the possibility of postponement, but that clarity around the situation is ultimately what everyone is seeking.

"We will be canvassing those views and just seeing what they feel about it.

"I think they'll be reassured by this, because there was some uncertainty about the Games per se, and now the IOC is seriously looking at what options are available and will give some certainty through that process."

That uncertainty was getting to the point where it was starting to become unfair on athletes, who are in the thick of their pre-Games preparations, Stanley added.

"We're getting to that point now and that's why the IOC is acting in this way."

Paralympics New Zealand Chairman Selwyn Maister has echoed Stanley's sentiments regarding athlete welfare and a need for a hasty resolution from the IOC.

"For the sake of Para athletes in New Zealand and throughout the world who have had their training and qualification plans severely disrupted," said Maister. 

"We sincerely hope that a decision can be taken as quickly as possible to prevent further uncertainty and we shall be advocating for that."

The IOC has remained steadfast that cancellation of the Games "is not on the agenda", but president Thomas Bach has now acknowledged that a postponement is on the cards, given the range of obstacles it faces.

"Contrary to other sports events, to postpone the Olympic Games is an extremely complex challenge," Bach says.

"A number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not be available anymore. 

"The situation with millions of nights already booked in hotels is extremely difficult to handle and the international sports calendar for at least 33 Olympic sports would have to be adapted. 

"It is in light of the worldwide deteriorating situation and in the spirit of our shared commitment to the Olympic Games that the IOC Executive Board has today initiated the next step in our scenarios."