Coronavirus Pandemic: 2020 Tokyo Olympics Postponed
Olympic chiefs on Tuesday postponed the 2020 Tokyo Games until next year, a historic move to push back the world’s biggest sporting event due to the coronavirus pandemic that is upending global society.
The dramatic step is the first time the Olympics has been postponed in peacetime and comes as a devastating blow to the city of Tokyo and the Olympic movement.
The decision came after a telephone call between International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who said the Games, initially scheduled to start on July 24 this year, will now take place “not later than summer 2021”.
Abe said Bach was in “100 percent agreement” when Japan asked the IOC to delay the Games, a decision welcomed with widespread relief from athletes, sports federations and officials.
In a joint statement, Bach and Abe said based on current World Health Organization information, the Tokyo 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”.
They said the Tokyo Games “could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.
“Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the statement concluded.
The Olympics, which has experienced boycotts, terrorist attacks and protests, but has been held every four years since 1948, is the highest-profile event affected by the virus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has gone on to kill thousands and force the postponement or cancellation of sports competitions worldwide.
Bach said the decision to postpone was “about protecting human life”, with 11,091 athletes expected at the Games along with 90,000 volunteers, and hundreds of thousands of officials and spectators.