Olympic and Paralympic Games will now take place no later than the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organising committee have agreed to postpone this summer’s Games until 2021.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic meant that the original Olympics start date of July 24 was becoming increasingly unfeasible, with a growing number of qualifying events being called off and with athlete training being heavily disrupted.
Following a conference call on Tuesday, IOC president Thomas Bach and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, concluded that the Games must be moved to a date no later than summer 2021.
It is not the first time the Olympics have been rescheduled. The 1940 Games were originally due to take place in Tokyo but were then awarded to Helsinki. London was then named as host of the 1944 Games but the plans were abandoned when war broke out in 1939 and lasted until 1945. Then, in 1948, London staged a successful Games.
“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,” reads a joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee.
“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,” the statement adds. “It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
The Olympic Games had been set to take place from July 24 to August 9 this year, with the Paralympic Games having been scheduled for August 25 to September 6.
Following the announcement, International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said postponing the Paralympics is “absolutely the right thing to do”.
He added: “The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sport event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible.”
In a statement, World Athletics said it welcomed the postponement decision and would still be planning for an outdoor season of one-day meetings in 2020 “starting and ending later than usual”.
Further to the comment shared with AW on Monday, the global governing body added that discussion to delay next year’s World Athletics Championships in Oregon to 2022 if necessary had also taken place.
“World Athletics stands ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date for the Olympic Games in 2021 and has already been in discussion with the organising committee of the World Athletics Championships Oregon 21 regarding the possibility of moving the dates of this highly popular worldwide event,” said the governing body.
“They have reassured us that they will work with all of their partners and stakeholders to ensure that Oregon is able to host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates, including dates in 2022.”
On the outdoor season, World Athletics added: “Athletics will continue to do whatever it can to preserve and create an outdoor season of one-day meetings in 2020, starting and ending later than usual, so athletes, when they are able and it is safe to, will have access to competitions in every region. This will help them benchmark their performances and adjust their training accordingly for an Olympic Games in 2021.
“In light of this announcement, we will also expedite our current review of the Olympic qualification system, in cooperation with the IOC, and release any changes to the process as soon as possible so athletes know where they stand.”