The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe have confirmed that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed to a later date amid COVID-19 concerns.
The emergency conference call between Shinzō Abe and IOC’s president Thomas Bach was made after olympic committees from Canada, USA and Great Britain among others were expected to refuse attendance if the original date was planned.
The joint statement said: “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.
“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.”
There are currently more than 375,000 cases of COVID-19 recorded worldwide. Given the Olympics worldwide appeal and fanbase, the decision was made to postpone the event, despite the fact that Japan has recorded a relatively low number of cases.
Various members of the ICO and Tokyo’s planning committee joined the conference call to support the new proposed plan to keep the Olympic Games in Japan, with a likely 2021 date on the cards.
The Olympic Games was regarded as the last ‘major’ sporting event yet to announce its postponement with UEFA’s Champions League, the NBA season and the F1 World Championships all suspending campaigns.