The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until 2021 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This decision comes after a meeting between Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and IOC president, Thomas Bach, where it was decided cancelling the Games was out of the question and the Games must be held by the summer of 2021.
“We agreed that a postponement would be the best way to ensure that the athletes are in peak condition when they compete and to guarantee the safety of the spectators,” Prime Minister Abe said.
“I proposed to postpone for about a year and [IOC] president Thomas Bach responded with 100% agreement,” he said.
The IOC then released a statement confirming the change of date to July 2021, saying, “in the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO (World Health Organisation) 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 IOC has since confirmed the Olympic flame will remain in Japan and the Games will still officially be called the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
International Paralympic Committee president, Andrew Parsons, said this was the only logical option to ensure the health and safety of the athletes.
“Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is,” Parsons said.
“It is essential, therefore, that all steps are taken to try to limit the spread of this disease.
“By taking this decision now, everyone involved in the Paralympic movement, including all Para-athletes, can fully focus on their own health and wellbeing and staying safe during this unprecedented and difficult time,” he said.
This news comes not long after Australia and Canada both announced their withdrawal from the 2020 Games and other nations began urging the IOC to postpone.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, this decision could see Japan’s economy lose up to ¥700 billion (AUD $10.44 billion) in the fiscal year.
Despite this, Goldman Sachs’ chief Japan strategist, Kathy Matsui, said, before the announcement, the impact of postponing the Games is relatively limited.
“I think if the games do have to be postponed, that calls into a bigger question about what’s happening in the rest of the world and that probably is a reflection that the COVID-19 situation is not improving,” Matsui said.
“That [Coronavirus], I think has a bigger impact on Japanese export demand and obviously domestic consumption and business activity as well,” she said.
Following the rescheduling of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, World Athletics and FINA have already said they will reschedule their 2021 world championship events to accommodate the Olympic Games in July 2021.