Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe has confirmed that the Olympic Games that had been scheduled to hold in his country from July to August this year has been postponed.
Megasportsarena.com reports that, after several weeks of deliberations, arguments and counter-claims, Abe eventually announced on Tuesday that Japan and International Olympic Committee (IOC) came to an agreement during a chat earlier in the day.
He explained that the agreement came during a phone call with IOC president, Thomas Bach, following growing demands among sports figures, personalities and officials across the world that the Games should be delayed or canceled due to concerns over coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 Olympics was set to run from July 24 through August 9, and the Paralympics from August 25 to September 6, but Abe disclosed that they have agreed that the Games will now hold in the summer of 2021, but it will still be called Tokyo 2020.
This comes amidst reports that the IOC, which has dealt with health threats in years past, has admitted that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is one of the most serious cases ever, with the suspension of sports activity across the world affecting the Tokyo 2020 qualification series and scheduled timeline.
“We have agreed to hold Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, at the very latest, by the summer of 2021. I proposed to postpone for a year and [IOC] president Thomas Bach responded with 100% agreement,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
In a joint statement, the organisers of Tokyo 2020 and the IOC said: “The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.
“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.”
The IOC had given itself a deadline of four weeks to consider delaying the Games but there had been mounting pressure from a host of Olympic committees and athletes demanding a quicker decision.
Canada became the first major country to withdraw from both events on Sunday, while USA Track and Field, athletics’ US governing body, had also called for a postponement.
The Olympics have never been delayed in their 124-year modern history, though they were cancelled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the two world wars.
Major Cold War boycotts disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles summer Games in 1980 and 1984.
The Tokyo 2020/IOC statement continued: “The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo 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.”