Coronavirus: Tokyo Olympics postponed
Published: 08:19 PM, 24 March 2020 Updated: 09:27 PM, 24 March 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the biggest sporting event in the world - Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the leader of the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the event until 2021 over the global coronavirus pandemic. The event was scheduled to start July 24 this year in Tokyo.
“I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded withb100 percent agreement,” Shinzo Abe told reporters referring to Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee president.
“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 conference call 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”.
Until just a few days ago the IOC, along with the Tokyo organising committee and the Japanese government, had insisted there were 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.
Tokyo 2020’s fate was in effect sealed this week when Canada and Australia said they would not send athletes to Japan in July, while the British and French governments urged the IOC to make a quick decision.
The Olympics have never before been delayed but were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the two world wars.
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