The 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo will be postponed until next year, the International Olympic Committee announced after a formal request from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to delay the event because of the global coronavirus outbreak.
“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating,” read a joint statement from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee.
Because of the current circumstances, including the World Health Organization’s statement on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” across the world, the summer games “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 statement read.
The committees met Tuesday with the Japanese government to hold discussions about next steps for the games as the coronavirus situation worsens.
Canada and Australia previously announced they would not send athletes to the 2020 Olympic Games if it were held this year over concerns about the outbreak. The British Olympic Association and USA Track and Field had also both demanded the games be postponed.
IOC president Thomas Bach agreed “100 percent” with the proposal of postponing the games until next year, the Japanese prime minister said. The summer games were originally scheduled for July 24 through August 9.
“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 committees said in their statement.