Coronavirus: Tokyo Olympics officially postponed due to pandemic
24 March 2020, 12:19
The Tokyo Olympics has been postponed following talks between the prime minister of Japan and the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
It comes after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a telephone call with the IOC's Thomas Bach to request a year-long delay to the Games.
In a statement, the IOC said under "present circumstances" the tournament would be delayed until next year, but no later than the summer.
It said: "The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating...
"In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, 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."
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
The statement also confirmed the Olympic flame would stay in Japan as a "beacon of hope" and the "light at the end of the tunnel in which the world find itself at present."
Next year's Games, it added, would still be called Tokyo 2020, despite being held in 2021.
The announcement on Tuesday was made following weeks of speculation about whether the Games could go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia and Canada had already withdrawn their teams due to safety concerns, while the Team GB boss said on Monday there was "no way" athletes could prepare if the pandemic continued.
Speaking to Sky News, Hugh Robertson, the chair of the British Olympics Association, said: "I think it's very simple. If the virus continues as predicted by the government, I don't think there is any way we can send a team.
"And I base that on two things. Firstly, I don't see any way that the athletes and Team FB could be ready by then.
"Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.
"Second, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this."