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 morning conference call between the 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 several IOC top officials and leaders of the organizing committee.
“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 “unprecedented and unpredictable” spread of the virus and the observation by the World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the pandemic is “accelerating.”
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide surged past the 400,000 mark accompanied by over 18,o00 deaths on 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,” they said, and that the Olympic flame would remain in Japan. They also said that the Games, despite being rescheduled for 2021, will keep the name “Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
This is a developing news story and will be updated.