The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have officially been postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday. The Games will be “rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021,” an IOC press release read.
The decision comes as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic accelerates by the hour, with over 375,000 cases recorded worldwide and the assumption that many more have yet to be diagnosed.
IOC president Thomas Bach and Japan prime minister Abe Shinzo announced the decision on a conference call with several other Olympic executives. The Games were supposed to begin on July 24 and end on August 9.
Organizers had tried to delay such a decision due to the economic income, with some reports estimating a loss of $6 billion in addition to the logistical nightmare of rescheduling the Games. Most world sports calendars revolve around building up to and avoiding overlap with the Olympics, and rescheduling the Olympics would create a domino effect. On Sunday, the IOC announced that it would take the next four weeks to decide whether it would delay the games.
Increasing pressure from athletes and National Olympic Committees, however, quickly followed. Australia and Canada quickly announced that, regardless of whether the IOC carried on as scheduled with the Olympics, they would not be sending athletes to Tokyo this summer.
The IOC’s tune changed on Tuesday. A statement read, in part:
“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. 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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