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Tokyo 2020 Olympics pushed back by a year due to coronavirus pandemic

13:07 GMT 24/03/2020
Tokyo 2020 - cropped
It has been confirmed that the Olympic Games will not go ahead as planned this summer because of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis

The International Olympics Committee has announced that the Tokyo 2020 Games have been postponed until 2021.

The IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee have released a joint statement confirming the news on Tuesday, as government officials across the globe fight to contain the spread of coronavirus.

"The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating," the statement reads.

"On Monday, the director-general of the World Health Organization, 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 [Tuesday], 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."

Discussions between Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach concluded that the Games should be put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of 17,154 people worldwide.

A tweet from the PM's Office of Japan account read: "After his telephone talks with IOC President Bach, PM Abe spoke to the press and explained that they have agreed the Tokyo Olympic Games would not be cancelled, and the games will be held by the summer of 2021."

Mr Abe confirmed plans to call off the summer Games while addressing the media: "I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded with 100 per cent agreement."

It means that for the first time since the Second World War, the Olympic Games will not go ahead as scheduled.

The spread of Covid-19 has halted sport across the globe and it had become apparent that a start date of July 24 for the Olympic Games was too close for comfort.

Canada and Australia had already stated that they would not be sending their respective teams to Japan due to fears over the safety of competitors and coaching staff.

The football world has also been heavily affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with all major leagues across Europe now on hiatus until April along with Champions League and Europa League competitions.

Both men and women's teams were due to compete at the Games, but it has now joined the European Championships and the Copa America in being pushed back by 12 months.

The English FA’s director of women’s football, Sue Campbell, said after the announcement was made: "The health of everyone - players, staff and supporters - is our foremost concern and our international sporting calendar must respect and respond to that priority above all else.  We are therefore fully supportive of the IOC’s decision to postpone the Olympic Games.

“With the Home Nations coming together as Team GB Women’s Football, we have been planning for - and very much looking forward to - the Olympics this summer.  However for the time being our shared focus must be on staying safe, looking after our friends and loved ones, and following the advice of Government and our incredibly committed and brave frontline health professionals.  

“Of course our minds are also focused on the UEFA Women’s EURO and we are in constant dialogue with UEFA in respect of that tournament.  We know all our partner organisations have the health and wellbeing of athletes and support staff at the heart of their decision making and we await further information from UEFA in due course.  

“Rest assured we can look forward to celebrating our sport in happier and safer times to come.”