The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday.
The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo Olympic organizers came to an agreement to to move the Tokyo Games to 2021.
The prime minister said Japan will fulfill its responsibility as the host nation "to prove that humanity has beaten the novel coronavirus."
It will mark the first time in history that the start of an Olympics will be delayed to another year.
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.
The announcement came two days after IOC President Thomas Bach said detailed discussions began to assess the coronavirus’ impact on the Olympics, including the scenario of postponement but not cancellation.
On Monday, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee joined the list of National Olympic Committees, including those from Canada and Australia, urging for postponement.
Before the postponement announcement, the IOC was already working with international federations to make changes to Olympic qualifying, which has been impacted by global sporting events being canceled into April and May.
A total of 76 athletes had already qualified for the U.S. Olympic team.
“With this decision, the work of planning a new version of the Tokyo Games is now officially underway,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote in a letter to U.S. athletes. “At the same time, we know from you, it’s important that the process of ensuring it is a fair and equitable Games be given equal attention. Working in partnership with athletes, [National Governing Bodies], International Federations, the IOC and IPC, we’ll (re)define standards for selection and anti-doping, and ensure the reimagined Games live up to the original promise of Tokyo 2020.”
This is the first major disruption to the Olympics since World War II, when the 1944 Summer Olympics, which were also to be held in Tokyo, were canceled.