Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed for a year during talks with organisers.
Mr Abe held talks with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach on Monday and said a postponement is unavoidable if the 2020 games cannot take place this year due to measures taken to combat COVID-19, NHK television reported.
A decision was taken by the International Olympic Committee in agreement with the Japanese Government and Tokyo 2020 organising committee to delay this summer’s Games until 2021 due to the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19, which has hampered athletes in their preparations and seen a number of competing nations placed in lockdown.
The virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, quickly spread to Japan before reaching Europe and causing Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom to take extreme measures in an effort to contain the spread.
In a statement, issued by the IOC, President Bach and Prime Minister Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games.
In a very friendly and constructive meeting, the two leaders praised the work of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and noted the great progress being made in Japan to fight against COVID-19.
The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. 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.
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.
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.
Sky News / Independent