NEWS

Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus

Heartbreak for competitors

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the head of the International Olympic Committee have agreed to delay the Tokyo Olympics until 2021.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Abe announced the postponement of the games amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after Abe had spoken with the president of the IOC Thomas Bach.

He said: ‘We asked President Bach to consider postponement of about one year to make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and to make the event a safe and secure one for spectators,” Abe said.

‘President Bach said he is in agreement 100 per cent.’

The IOC and The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee released a statement on Tuesday saying the ‘unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the (coronavirus) outbreak’ had prompted the decision.

‘Yesterday, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘accelerating’,’ the statement reads.

‘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 Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times.’

‘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.

It is the first time in the Olympics’ 124-year history that they have been postponed, though they were cancelled outright several times during the two 20th century World Wars.

Athletes wholeheartedly endorsed the delay, given health risks and disruption to their training as gyms, stadia and swimming pools shut down around the world.

Reacting to the news, Australia’s two-time Olympic champion swimmer, Cate Campbell said: ‘To be honest, I’m left reeling and feeling a little lost.

‘But the goalposts haven’t disappeared – just shifted. It’s time to recalibrate and fire up for the next challenge.’

Some athletes were sad but relieved on Tuesday after weeks of worrying and struggling to train as countries headed into different states of lockdown from the disease that has claimed more than 20,000 lives.

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