In an unprecedented move, the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo will be postponed until 2021 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee and Japan announced on Tuesday.
The decision was made in a conference call between IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said. Also on hand for the call were some IOC top officials and organizing committee leaders.
"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," the IOC and local organizing committee said in a joint statement.
They noted the pandemic is "unprecedented and unpredictable," and that World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is "accelerating." The global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surged past 400,000 with over 18,o00 deaths as of Tuesday, according to two separate Johns Hopkins University and Google data trackers.
"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 IOC and local organizing committee said.
The leaders said they agreed the Tokyo Olympic Games "could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times," and that the Olympic flame would remain in Japan. They said they decided that the Games, despite being rescheduled for 2021, will keep the name "Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020."