The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed officially Tuesday morning in a joint announcement by the International Olympic Committee, Japanese prime minster Abe Shinzo and other organizers of the upcoming summer games.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the officials into moving back the event, which was slated to begin July 24. The latest announcement didn’t commit to an exact date for rescheduling, but did confirm it would be “beyond 2020” but “no later than summer 2021.” The Paralympics in Tokyo are postponed as well.
The Olympics have never been postponed in the past, though they have been canceled during times of war.
“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating,” the Olympic organizers released in a statement. “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.”