Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postponed Over Coronavirus Concerns
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday.
Abe said Japan and the International Olympic Committee came to an agreement during a phone call with the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, following growing calls for the games to be delayed or canceled because of the concerns around coronavirus pandemic.
The Japanese leader told reporters after the call that they agreed that the games would not be canceled and will be held, at the very latest, by the summer of 2021.
"Considering the current situation, in regards to the Tokyo Games, as the host nation, in order to ensure that athletes from all over the world are able to compete in their best condition, and also in order to ensure the utmost safety for the spectators, I have asked him to consider postponing the games by about a year,” Abe added.
The prime minister said Japan will fulfill its responsibility as the host nation "to prove that humanity has beaten the novel coronavirus."
The virus has forced millions of people around the world into lockdowns to help curb its spread and claimed more than 17,000 lives.
The Olympics is the biggest event yet to be affected by the growing global pandemic. The games were set to run July 24 to Aug. 9, and the Paralympics Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.
"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," the IOC said in a joint statement with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.
This is the first major disruption to the Olympics since World War II, when the 1944 Summer Olympics, were canceled. The 1940 Summer Olympics, which were also to be held in Tokyo, were also canceled.
The IOC has dealt with potential health threats in the recent past, but none so serious that they affected the scheduled timeline.