The Olympic Games will not go ahead as planned because of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee has announced.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Olympic Committee confirmed the move on Tuesday following discussions between its president Thomas Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Games’ organisers.
It means that for the first time since the Second World War, the Olympics will not go ahead on schedule.
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 Games was too close for comfort.
A statement issued by the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO [World Health Organisation], 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 statement came shortly after Mr Abe’s office tweeted to announce the news.
“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,” the tweet 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. pic.twitter.com/ihe8To2g3R
— PM’s Office of Japan (@JPN_PMO) March 24, 2020
As a gesture of solidarity, the Olympic flame will stay in Japan and the Games will retain the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
On Sunday, the IOC appeared to attempt to give itself breathing space when announcing it would make a decision in the next four weeks.
However, a growing number of athletes, national governing bodies and sport organisations called for the Games to be put back.
Some athletes expressed great concern that they were effectively being told to carry on with preparations for the Olympics at a time when health concerns have never been greater, and with lockdowns in place in many countries.
World Athletics indicated at the weekend its hope that new dates could be found, and USA Swimming demanded a postponement, saying “pressing ahead this summer… is not the answer”.
The decision to postpone appeared inevitable when veteran IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today on Monday that “the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know”.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee consulted hundreds of athletes and said its conclusion was that, regardless of progress in efforts to contain and quash coronavirus, “the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner”.