IOC postpones 2020 Tokyo Olympics until 2021

It's official: The International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday that the 2020 Olympics, originally scheduled to take place in Tokyo starting on July 24, will be postponed until 2021, due to the worldwide coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by about one year. A new timetable has yet to be announced.

Despite the postponement, the Summer Olympics -- when they eventually happen -- will still be called the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

This is the first time in the 124-year history of the modern Olympics that the event has been postponed, according to USA Today. The 1916, 1940 and 1944 Olympics were canceled because of world wars.

The just-announced IOC decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics came less than 48 hours after the IOC said it was giving itself four weeks to make a decision about the Olympics. Pressure from nations and athletes alike mounted in recent days. On Monday, both Canada and Australia had said they would not send athletes to the 2020 Olympics as originally scheduled. reported Tuesday, "The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee sent a survey over the weekend to more than 4,000 American Olympics hopefuls, and nearly seven in 10 respondents said they didn't think the Games would be fair if held in July. Germany and Poland had also called for the Games to be delayed."

Official statement of the IOC and Japan regarding postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Here is the text of the official statement issued jointly by international Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinso Abe on Tuesday, March 24, 2020:

"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.

"In a very friendly and constructive meeting, the two leaders praised the work of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and noted the great progress being made in Japan to fight against COVID-19.

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 more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.

"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 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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