Japan and the International Olympic Committee have jointly decided to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by a year and said that the Games will be held in 2021.
This decision was taken and multiple rounds of discussions between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach.
This is only the fourth time in the history of the modern Olympics – which begin in 1896, that the Games had to be postponed. The other here occasions when such a step was taken was during the two World Wars.
“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,” a joint statement from Bach and Prime Minister Abe read.
Many had still hoped that the Olympics would be held and could serve to a distraction from the dismal picture of what is going around the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But apparently the health of everyone, including that of athletes, assumed greater importance.
“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,” Bach and Abe added. “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.”
Indication of the postponement of the Olympics was available ion on Monday after IOC member Dick Pound was quoted in the media as saying that the Games were likely to be pushed to 2021. He also added that a plan of how to go about the postponement would be chalked out in the next four weeks.
However, IOC vice president Anita DeFrantz came out afterwards and said that “the Games are not going to start on July 24” and had said that she was not aware of any plans of postponement. “If that is the case, then you know more than a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee,” she said, referencing Pound’s announcement. “It would be news to me.”
A formal statement on Monday was issued by the USOPC following the comments from Pound and DeFrantz in which an official urge was made to the IOC to postpone the Olympic Games scheduled for July this year, following a survey of 1,780 athletes conducted by the committee.
Earlier, warnings that no athletes from Canada and Australia would be sent for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, the countries had warned.
“The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement,” read the IOC’s statement.
(Adapted from CBCSports.com)