Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Tuesday that because of the growing threat of coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics have been delayed for a whole year until 2021.
“The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will not be canceled,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo, adding that they would be held by the summer of next year.
He said that Japan had reached an agreement with International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to be pushed to next summer at the latest as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.
Abe told reporters that “I asked Bach to consider that the Tokyo Olympics be postponed for about a year to make sure athletes from around the world are able to perform in the best condition possible and to ensure spectators’ safety and security as a host country.”
“Japan will fulfill its responsibilities as a host nation,” Abe said, adding that the decision was made to delay the games by a year in hopes that the pandemic has subsided by then.
The coronavirus pandemic has made it all but impossible for aspiring Olympians to train and, in many cases, qualify for a July event. The pandemic has spread to more than 170 countries around the world.
In a joint statement, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 committee said the Olympic torch should remain in Japan until the Olympics begin to “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.”
Since the Coronavirus pandemic broke out in Wuhan-China, the 2020 Games fate had remained unknown for weeks amid concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic could spread further if millions of visitors from around the world descended on the Japanese capital in July for the opening ceremony.