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 Tokyo 2020 organising committee confirmed the news.
The Games had been due to get under way on July 24.
‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO [World Health Organization] 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,’ a 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 decision to delay was praised in a joint statement from the British Olympic Association, British Paralympic Association and elite sports funding body UK Sport, who said athletes’ ability to train and prepare had been ‘compromised irreparably’ by the virus.
BOA chief executive Andy Anson said: ‘It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement, but in all consciousness it is the only decision we can support in light of the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on our nation, our communities and our families.
‘It would have been unthinkable for us to continue to prepare for an Olympic Games at a time the nation and the world, no less, is enduring great hardship. A postponement is the right decision.’
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.
Following the decision, British sprinter Adam Gemili tweeted: ‘Thankful to finally have some clarity regarding the Olympic Games. A huge decision but I think the right one, for sure.
‘Time to regain, look after each other during this difficult period and go again when the time is right!’