The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was announced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday after Japanese officials held a conference call with the International Olympic Committee.
“I proposed to postpone for about a year and [IOC] president Thomas Bach responded with 100% agreement,” Abe said. “This will make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and will make the event a safe and secure one for spectators.”
Abe said that the games would be pushed back to 2021 “at the latest.” A one-year delay will also be implemented for the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Hours later, organizers of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field, scheduled to be held in Eugene, Oregon in late June, announced that they would also be rescheduled, but no date was set. TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly announced in a media release, “Although it is not yet clear how long it may take to finalize a new date for the event, our Local Organizing Committee stands ready to welcome the best athletes in the country to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field once a decision is reached.”
The decision ends weeks of speculation about the event’s future in the wake of the virus’s rapid spread across the globe. In recent weeks the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation or postponement of multiple international sporting events, and has halted games and tournaments for major leagues in multiple countries. In the United States, the NBA, NHL and MLB have all altered their respective seasons and canceled games to prevent the spread of the virus.
Running has not been spared either, with major events such as the Boston and London Marathons and hundreds of regional and local races all being halted or postponed.
But before Tuesday’s announcement, there was lingering speculation that the 2020 Olympics could continue. The games were slated to be held July 22 through August 9, with the Paralympics running August 25 through September 6.
The IOC was curiously silent about the future of the games in the past week, prompting several international governing bodies to release statements of their own on the future of the event. On March 22 the national Olympic committees from Canada and Australia said they would not send athletes to the summer games. In the United States, three major national governing bodies—USA Swimming, USA Track & Field and USA Gymnastics—all released statements asking the IOC to push back the games.
Late on Monday, the U.S. Olympic Committee urged the IOC to postpone the Olympics, however the American federation did not officially withdraw.
Officials with the IOC were quiet about the decision, however signs began to appear on Monday that a decision was looming. On Monday Canadian IOC official Dick Pound told USA Today that the games would be postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will be reporting on reactions and implications for athletes as the news develops.
Adapted From VeloNews