Following a few days of tough negotiations, the Olympics will not be taking place this summer. IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed to postpone the 2020 Summer Games, set to take place in Tokyo, Japan. This is according to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, via the Associated Press.
A day after IOC representative Dick Pound stated the Olympics would be postponed, Abe confirmed the news in detail. Due to the coronavirus, the Olympics will be delayed until 2021, but will still be called the 2020 Games.
“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 IOC said in a statement.
Prime Minister Abe went on to say that having the Summer Games at a later time was “proof of a victory by human beings against the coronavirus infections.”
Initially, the Olympics were going to go on as planned, per Pound. Back in February, Pound stated the following:
“As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo. All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation.”
Following that announcement, a number of situations escalated, forcing the IOC’s hand. The Israeli judo team cancelled their training camp in Japan, while the IOC Boxing Task Force had to suspend all boxing qualifiers as they were happening. The International Judo Federation also suspended all events, while the Karate 1-Premier League events in Rabat, Morocco and Madrid were cancelled.
Yesterday morning, Canada and Australia joined Norway, Brazil and Slovenia in announcing they will not be sending athletes to the Summer Games if it was to still take place. The United States swimming and track governing bodies even called for a postponement. A decision was meant to be made within the next four weeks, but due to the coronavirus spreading at an extreme rate, something needed to be done.
The Olympic flame ceremony was almost going to go on as planned, but the torch will be held on display in Fukushima. It will be preserved until it is the right time to take it out.
Abe needed to give into the pressure of protecting athletes, fans and all of Japan. The coronavirus has been a thorn in the side of the entire world over the past few months. According to the latest from CNN, there are over 332.9K cases of the virus, with over 14,510 deaths. Abe and company are hoping that by waiting it out, the Olympics could eventually be a symbol for those who have struggled during this pandemic.
“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,” the IOC statement went on to say.
This is the first time the Olympics have been postponed. The games have been cancelled five times: 1916 Summer Games, 1940 Summer and Winter Games, 1944 Summer and Winter Games.