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Organizers have postponed the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games due to coronavirus concerns.
The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers released a joint statement on Tuesday after weeks of mounting pressure to change plans. The Olympics were initially set to start on July 24, but it has become increasingly clear over the past several days that hosting a major sporting event in that time frame would not be feasible amid the global crisis.
Two days ago, organizers said they would make a decision on the status of the 2020 Games over the next four weeks. Now, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Shinzo Abe, president of Japan, have agreed to push the event back to 2021.
“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO 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,” organizers said in a statement.
While past Olympic Games have been cancelled – most recently in 1940 and 1944 due to the Second World War – Tuesday’s announcement marks the first time the Olympic Games have ever been postponed to a later date.
Organizers remain committed to hosting the rescheduled Olympics in Japan.
“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,” read the joint statement. “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.”