IOC, Japan agree to postpone Tokyo Olympics to 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic (Photo Credit: File Image)
After talks between Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, the authorities have decided to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until 2021. The step was taken to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. "We agreed that a postponement would be the best way to ensure that the athletes are in peak condition when they compete and to guarantee the safety of the spectators," Abe told reporters shortly after his conversation with Bach, adding that the Games would be held by the summer of 2021.
The Games "must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community", the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said later in a joint statement. The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will continue to be called the "Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020" even if they are held next year, and the Olympic flame will stay in Japan "as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times".
Earlier, the IOC and the Tokyo organizing committee had insisted that there are no plans to delay the Olympics given they were not due to open for another four months but Japan’s NHK public television reported on Tuesday that Abe wanted the one-year delay.
The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said: "I know this is heartbreaking for so many people, athletes, coaches, staff and fans but this was absolutely the right call and everyone should follow their lead." The US Olympic and Paralympic committee followed suit, citing the "enormous" disruption the pandemic had caused to training and the qualification process.
A statement said: “Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner.”