TOKYO: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021 on Tuesday, ending weeks of speculation the games could not go ahead as scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the decision after speaking to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and local organisers.
The IOC said the games would be held not later than summer of 2021 but they would still be called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO, IOC president Thomas Bach 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 IOC said in a statement.
Before the official announcement, Abe said Bach had agreed with his proposal for a one-year postponement.
The decision came only a few hours after local organisers said the torch relay would start as planned on Thursday. Those plans also would be changed now.
For the time being, the flame will be stored and displayed in Fukushima, organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said.
The Olympics have never before been postponed, and have only ever previously been cancelled in wartime.
The IOC and Tokyo organisers said they hope the decision to postpone will help the world heal from the pandemic.
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, the IOC statement said.
Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame would stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games would keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2020