Tokyo Olympic Games Postponed to Next Year as Coronavirus Spreads

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Mar. 24, 2020

The Olympic Games in Tokyo have been postponed until next year, the International Olympic Committee declared Tuesday, citing “accelerating” unprecedented and unpredictable spread of coronavirus around the world. The Games will remain in Tokyo.

The Games that were to be held from July 24 to Aug. 9 “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021,” the IOC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee said after a conference call with Japan’s Prime Minister.

The postponement comes after 395,744 cases were reported since the outbreak, with a total of 17,234 deaths.

An increasing number of countries called for a delay as the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, has led to sharp curtailment of activities and efforts to prevent gatherings in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

It is the first postponement in the history of the modern Olympics, that began in 1896 but were not staged on three ocassions because of world wars.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo of Japan and IOC President Thomas Bach, the statement said, held a conference call Tuesday “to discuss the constantly changing environment” with coronavirus.

“President Bach and Prime Minister Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games,” it said.

“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), 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, 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.”