International Olympic Committee Postpones Tokyo Games to 2021

Tokyo, Japan – March 24, 2020 – As the spread of Covid-19 accelerates with close to 400,000 cases around the world, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has faced an onslaught of challenges regarding the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. With quarantines in place throughout many countries and the cancellation of numerous qualifying competitions and team selections, concerns of the fairness of the Games and the safety of athletes to continue training for the prestigious event was called into question. Earlier this week, Australia and Canada announced their withdrawal of their athletes from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that were set to kick off July 24.

On the morning of Tuesday, March 24, the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach, and the prime minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, held a conference call to discuss the constantly changing environment of Covid-19 and the plans for handling the upcoming Games.

“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 released in a statement.

In their meeting, they were joined by Mori Yoshiro, the President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee; the Olympic Minister, Hashimoto Seiko; the Governor of Tokyo, Koike Yuriko; the Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission, John Coates; IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper; and the IOC Olympic Games Executive Director, Christophe Dubi.

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 two leaders complimented the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and noted Japan’s progress in the fight against COVID-19.

Laura Graves and Verdades competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “accelerating”. There are cases now recorded in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.

In the IOC statement, they said 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. 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.

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