Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic
The International Olympics Committee has announced that the Tokyo 2020 Games have been postponed until 2021.
The IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee have released a joint statement confirming the news on Tuesday, as government officials across the globe fight to contain the spread of coronavirus.
“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating,” the statement reads.
“On Monday, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘accelerating’.
“There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.
“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today (Tuesday), the IOC president and the prime minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo 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.”
Discussions between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach concluded that the Games should be put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of 17,154 people worldwide.
A tweet from the PM’s Office of Japan account read: “After his telephone talks with IOC President Bach, PM Abe spoke to the press and explained that the two have agreed that the Tokyo Olympic Games would not be cancelled, and the games will be held by the summer of 2021.”
Mr Abe confirmed plans to call off the summer Games while addressing the media: “I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded with 100 per cent agreement.”
It means that for the first time since the Second World War, the Olympic Games will not go ahead as scheduled.
The spread of Covid-19 has halted sport across the globe and it had become apparent that a start date of July 24 for the Olympic Games was too close for comfort.
Canada and Australia had already stated that they would not be sending their respective teams to Japan due to fears over the safety of competitors and coaching staff.
The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee said in an official statement on Sunday: “While we recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community.”
Meanwhile, Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll stressed the importance of making sure all athletes put their own “personal health” above ambitions for success in the far east.
Carroll told reporters on Monday: “The athletes desperately want to go to the games, but they also take on board their own personal health.
“We need to give our athletes that certainty and that’s what we’ve done.”