IOC, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee officially postpone Summer Olympics

People wearing protective face masks, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, are seen in front of the Giant Olympic rings at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo)

Following reports on Monday that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Organizing Committee made it official in an announcement on Tuesday.

The decision came following a meeting with IOC president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo where they revealed the Games will be pushed back “beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.”

“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating,” the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee said in a joint statement. “Yesterday, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘accelerating’. There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.”

This was an inevitable course of action considering the rest of the sporting world had been shut down in recent weeks while coronavirus continues to spread. But as recently as last Wednesday, Japan’s top spokesman and chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, revealed that there were no plans to postpone the Games, which were originally planned to span from July 24-Aug. 9. 

It wasn’t until Sunday that a four-week deadline was set to discuss to the idea of postponing the games — which was followed by major countries like Canada and Australia pulling out of the Games if they were to take place this summer, before an official announcement just two days later. 

“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 joint statement read. “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.”