Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the games will be postponed for a year due to the coronavirus. (Reuters: Athit Perawongmetha)
The International Olympic Committee has announced the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be postponed by one year.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier announced he had requested the postponement after a late-night teleconference with IOC President Thomas Bach.
“I asked if the IOC could consider postponement for around a year and Mr Bach said he was 100 per cent in agreement,” Mr Abe said.
“The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held at the latest by the Summer of 2021 — and [Mr Bach] agreed with that.
“As a symbol of mankind’s victory over coronavirus, we will host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in their complete form.”
@Tokyo2020 tweet: To safeguard the health of the athletes and everyone involved in the Tokyo 2020 Games. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will now take place no later than summer 2021.
In a joint statement, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said the decision to postpone the games was to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.
The Olympic Flame will remain in Japan, as a symbolic “light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,” the statement said.
The Olympic Flame is currently in Fukushima, and the torch relay was due to begin on Wednesday.
Tokyo’s Governor Yuriko Koike said the flame would serve as a symbol of solidarity and also victory over the coronavirus.
Ms Koike said the Games would still be branded the 2020 Olympics, even though they would be held in 2021.
@AUSOlympicTeam tweet: “The date may change, but the goal remains the same.” We’re stronger together
But the postponement poses huge logistical hurdles for games organisers, with scheduling and increased costs certain to pose challenges.
Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto said she hoped the news of the postponement would reassure athletes around the world.
“It must have been very concerning and worrisome for athletes to try to maintain their physical condition, so I appreciate that a decision was made,” she said.