The Tokyo Olympic Games has been delayed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a joint statement, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said that the Olympics would be rescheduled “to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021” in a bid to protect athletes and fans.
“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 statement said.
“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.”
Ian Chesterman, Vice President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), commended the ICO for moving quickly.
“We thought there was going to be a four-week wait to find out what was going on. It’s only been a couple of days,” he told ABC Breakfast.
“They have been able to secure the agreement of all parties and such a big effort to organise the games, it takes so many different groups. That’s going to really a big weight off the shoulders of so many athletes around the world and athletes here in Australia, they now have some certainty to work towards next year.”
The games had been due to begin on July 24 and would have marked the first time Japan had held the summer Olympics since 1964.
The decision was announced as the global number of Covid-19 surpassed 330,000, according to the World Health Organisation. More than 14,500 people have died around the world during the outbreak, including more than 1,000 in Japan.
The spread of coronavirus – which is thought to have originated in Hubei Province, China – has already seen the Premier League suspended until at least April 30, while all other football in the UK has been postponed.
Meanwhile, a number of Six Nations rugby matches have also been delayed until later in the year.