Tokyo: Japan on Tuesday (March 24) asked for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 to be postponed to next year due to the deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The summer Olympics are to be held from July 24 to August 9.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and proposed one-year postponement of the Games, local media reported.

Also read: IOC chief's letter to athletes over Tokyo Olympics

Later, talking to reporters, Abe said IOC had agreed to postpone the Games to 2021. Japan PM's office tweeted, "After his telephone talks with IOC President Bach, PM Abe spoke to the press and explained that the two have agreed that the Tokyo Olympic Games would not be cancelled, and the games will be held by the summer of 2021."

 

In a joint statement, IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, said, "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."

In a letter to athletes, Bach had written that postponing the Games was “extremely complex challenge”. “Contrary to other sports events, to postpone the Olympic Games is an extremely complex challenge.”

Also read: Canada pulls out of Tokyo Olympics

Also he has said human life takes precedence over everything.

He wrote, “In this unprecedented crisis we are all united. Like you, we are very much concerned about what the COVID-19 pandemic is doing to people’s lives. Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games. The IOC wants to be part of the solution.

“Therefore we have made it our leading principle to safeguard the health of everyone involved, and to contribute to containing the virus. I would like to assure you that we will adhere to this in all our decisions concerning the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

World athletics chief Sebastian Coe had said Tokyo Games should be delayed. “"Whilst we all know that different parts of the world are at different stages of the virus, the unanimous view across all our areas is that an Olympic Games in July this year is neither feasible nor desirable," Coe wrote in a letter to Bach.

On Monday (March 23), Canada became the first country to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus.