Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics postponed until ‘not later than summer 2021’

PUBLISHED: 14:07 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:09 24 March 2020

The Olympic Rings stand outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: ADAM DAVY/PA

The Olympic Rings stand outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: ADAM DAVY/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

The Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until summer 2021 at the latest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A joint statement from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee confirmed the news, following a conference call on Tuesday.

The Games will not now take place in 2020, but will happen no later than the summer of 2021.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO (World Health Organisation) 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 statement read.

“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.

“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.”

The British Olympic Association (BOA), British Paralympic Association (BPA) and UK Sport welcomed the news.

Chief executive of the BOA Andy Anson said: “It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement but in all consciousness it is the only decision we can support in light of the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on our nation, our communities and our families.

“Alongside UK Sport and the BPA, we have consulted with the national governing bodies of summer Olympic and Paralympic sports and with athlete representative groups.

“It is with their input and support that we have a unanimous view that the impact of COVID-19 on athletes’ training and preparation means their regimes are now compromised irreparably.

“It is time for them to stop thinking about Tokyo 2020 for now and be home and safe with their families.

“We have incredible sympathy for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and indeed our colleagues at the IOC who are working tirelessly to seek a positive outcome to this difficult scenario.

“The Olympic Games is a symbol of hope for us all and we are sure that we will be in Tokyo at the right and appropriate time as the world re-emerges from this dark period.”

Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport, said: “We are working closely with government to ensure we can effectively support sports and their athletes through this distressing period.

“I’d like to take the opportunity to reassure sports that our guidance from last week remains in place. We will not seek to recover any financial performance investment or athlete performance awards due to disruption caused by COVID-19.

“We also realise that today’s decision has significant financial implications for our high performance system and we are working hard to identify the wide-ranging impacts and scenarios and are in close contact with government to establish how best to support our summer Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes to be ready for the Games when they do take place.

“I’d like to thank all our athletes who are playing a role in so many different ways in these challenging times, from supporting their local communities to inspiring us to stay active in our own homes.

“I’d also like to reassure the public that whilst the games are postponed, we strongly believe the power of sport will inspire the nation again.”

Mike Sharrock, CEO of the BPA, added: “The British Paralympic Association is already implementing contingency plans to ensure ParalympicGB athletes have everything in place to be best prepared for the Games when they are staged in 2021.

“We recognise that there are a huge range of factors to be considered when looking to postpone an event at this scale and we acknowledge the scale of the challenge for our friends at the Tokyo organising committee, the IOC and IPC in addressing these.

“Now is the time for us all to work together to overcome this global threat. Sport has a unique power to inspire and bring people together and we are certain that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games can be that beacon of hope for the whole world to focus on to show what the human spirit can achieve.”


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