The 2020 Olympic Games will not go on as planned. They will be postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The competition was slated to begin in Tokyo on July 24, but could now be postponed by up to a year.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe confirmed the news this morning. Per Reuters, the International Olympic Committee chief agreed "100% on the proposal for a 1-year delay."
This is the first time in modern history that the Games (summer or winter) have been postponed; they were canceled during both world wars.
On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged that the Summer Games might not happen as scheduled.
"If it’s difficult to proceed in its complete form, then we must think about the athletes first and consider postponing," he told Parliament, according to NBC News.
But the IOC wasn't ready to make an official announcement about postponement yet. A letter from the organization's President, Thomas Bach, suggested that they might not share their plans for weeks. Clearly that timeline has been moved up. In his letter, he also made it clear that canceling was not on the agenda.
"Our basis of information today is that a final decision about the date of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now would still be premature," he wrote.
"So, like you, we are in a dilemma: Cancellation of the Olympic Games would destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees, from the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, most likely for the Paralympic athletes, and for all the people who are supporting you as coaches, doctors, officials, training partners, friends and family. Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody. Therefore it is not on our agenda."
Previously, Canada and Australia shared that their teams would not compete if the Games went on as planned, and both countries had called for the Olympics to be postponed.
"While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community," the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee said in a statement Sunday. "This is not solely about athlete health -- it is about public health."
Per CNN, the Australian Olympic Committee's executive board agreed that their team "could not be assembled given the changing circumstances across the world."
"The athletes desperately want to go to the games...but they also take onboard their own personal health," Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said. "We need to give our athletes that certainty and that's what we've done."
Earlier this week, IOC member Dick Pound broke the news that the Games would be delayed, "with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks."
"On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told reporter Christine Brennan.
"The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know."
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