Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, announced a one-year postponement for Tokyo Olympics.
Abe made the announcement during his meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Thomas Bach.
Abe explained that cancelling the games was out of the question. Bach also agreed that postponement of Tokyo Olympics was the most appropriate response to recent disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We agreed that a postponement would be the best way to ensure that the athletes are in peak condition when they compete and to guarantee the safety of the spectators,” Abe told the press.
However, he noted that the Games would be held by the summer of 2021.
Abe had said that postponing the event was unavoidable if the 2020 Games could not be run completely due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Abe’s meeting with Bach was held the IOC stated that it would decide on the Tokyo Games within the next four weeks.
Before the announcement of the postponement, the IOC, the Tokyo organizing committee and the Japanese government, held that there were no plans to delay the Olympics given they were not due to open for another four months but.
Meanwhile, Canada and Australia already announced that they would not send their athletes to Japan in July. The British and French governments also asked the IOC to make a decision.
“I know this is heartbreaking for so many people, athletes, coaches, staff and fans but this was absolutely the right call and everyone should follow their lead,” said the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
The US Olympic and Paralympic committee released a statement: “Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner.”
World Athletics, the Olympic committees of Brazil, Slovenia and Germany, USA Swimming and USA Track and Field also called for a new date for the Olympic Games.
“These Games need to be postponed, and the sooner the IOC and the Japanese government face up to this the better. It’s simply not safe to put the games on during a global pandemic,” Lawrence Waterman, head of health and safety for London 2012, said in a statement.
“People’s safety and health should come before the costs of delaying contracts. The London Games were the first in history to be completed without a single fatality, we set the standard on health and safety at the Olympics.”