The 2020 Olympic Games have officially been postponed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Games, which were due to begin in Tokyo this June, will now take place next year – no later than the summer – according to joint statement from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.
The decision was taken after a “friendly and constructive meeting” between IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, which was held via conference call.
The statement read, “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.”
It continued, “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.”
The Olympics is the latest – and most high profile – sporting event to be postponed or cancelled in the wake of the outbreak, with Euro 2020 and a host of other tournaments across a wealth of sports all suffering a similar fate.