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Coronavirus: Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games postponed

PUBLISHED: 13:38 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:32 24 March 2020

A general view of Olympic Rings outside The Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.

A general view of Olympic Rings outside The Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.

PA Wire/PA Images

The Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until summer 2021 at the latest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A joint statement from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee confirmed the news, following a conference call on Tuesday.

The Games will not now take place in 2020, but will happen no later than the summer of 2021.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO (World Health Organisation) 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 statement read.

“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 conference call featured Bach, Abe, plus Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Yoshiro Mori, Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto, the governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike, the chair of the IOC’s co-ordination commission John Coates, IOC director general Christophe De Kepper and IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi.

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees had already announced they would not compete in Tokyo this summer, while the Australians had told their athletes to prepare for a postponement to the summer of 2021.

Team USA said it had surveyed its athletes with nearly 93 per cent of the 1,780 respondents preferring to see the Games postponed rather than outright cancelled, while 68 per cent said the event could not be fairly competed if

continued as scheduled.

The Germany Olympic Committee said a postponement decision was “long overdue”.

Its statement, released prior to the official announcement, read: “The examination of the relocation is a correct step of the IOC, which is long overdue in view of the current global health situation, because this now clearly signals internally and externally that the implementation of the Games is clearly subordinate to world health.”

British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson had earlier said it was unthinkable that the Games would not be put back.

Robertson told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “We are pretty much there. I think a postponement is pretty much inevitable.

“I really don’t see how there is any way the IOC can press ahead with a start in July this year. We have always said there were two things that for us were really important here.

“The first was preserving the competitive integrity of the Olympic Games when the countries are effectively in lockdown and athletes can’t train and some of them may catch the coronavirus, there is no way you can preserve that

competitive integrity.

“Secondly there is a really serious question about whether it would be appropriate to hold an Olympic Games against this backdrop.

“For both of those reasons, it is my personal view, that July is a total non-starter.”

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