After many calls to postpone due to the risks of the coronavirus pandemic, Japan and the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday announced it would delay the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics until 2021.
The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, held a conference call this morning to discuss the constantly changing environment with regard to COVID-19 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
President Bach and Prime Minister Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games.
The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), 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, 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 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.
CBS estimates that the investment the city of Tokyo has made in the event is $12.6 billion to $25.2 billion. Sponsors and broadcasters will also take a financial blow, although Discovery Inc. and NBCUniversal have told investors that they have been insured against a cancellation.
First held in 776 BCE, the Games were revived in the modern era in 1896, when the Games were held in Athens, Greece. The 1916 Games were cancelled because of World War I, as were the 1940 and 1944 Games due to World War II.