Tokyo:Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday announced that Japan and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have agreed to postpone the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Games were scheduled for July 24-August 9 but accelerating COVID-19 crisis has forced the Olympics to be postponed for the 1st time in its 124-year modern history.Abe made the announcement after a teleconference with IOC chief Thomas Bach, putting an end to two months speculation of the future of the Games since the outbreak of coronavirus in late January.
"I proposed to Mr Bach that we postpone the Olympic Games for a year. He 100 per cent agrees with me," Abe said in a statement as reported by Japan's NHK public television.
"This will make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and will make the event a safe and secure one for spectators," he added.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori and Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto also attended the teleconference.
The IOC said in a statement that the meeting was "very friendly and constructive" and the two leaders expressed their shared concern about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic."The Tokyo Olympics must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, "
the statement reads.
The two sides 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 IOC had faced flak for delaying what seemed to be an inevitable decision despite growing voices against hosting the Olympics as scheduled.
Several athletes and sporting federations across the globe expressed their concern over preparation and safety in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak. However, on Sunday, the IOC for the 1st time spoke about the postponement and said a final call would be taken in 4 week's time.
The pressure on the IOC grew further as Canada and Australia announced on Monday that they would be pulling out from the Games if it is held as scheduled despite the coronavirus threat.On Monday, veteran IOC member Dick Pound said that the Olympic delay was decided and that it would defenitely not start on July 24.
The coronavirus outbreak has raged around the world since early this year, infecting nearly 380,000 people and has forced postponement or cancellation of almost every sports event in the world.(UNI)