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IOC postpones 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo until next year over COVID-19 threat

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo were scheduled to be held between July 24 and August 9

MOSCOW, March 24. /TASS/. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Tuesday a decision to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo until next year, the IOC press service said in a statement.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo were scheduled to be held between July 24 and August 9, and the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games were planned to be organized between August 25 and September 6.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), held a telephone conversation on Tuesday discussing the expediency of organizing the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo this summer in view of the COVID-19 continuous global spread.

"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 statement reads.

"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," according to the statement.

"In a very friendly and constructive meeting, the two leaders praised the work of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and noted the great progress being made in Japan to fight against COVID-19."

Japanese Prime Minister Abe said addressing the national parliament early on Monday that it was impossible to organize the Olympic Games under the current circumstances adding that he hoped to discuss this issue as soon as possible with IOC President Thomas Bach. Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Local Organizing Committee, announced later in the day that the Games would go in line with the initial schedule.

IOC President Bach announced on Sunday that the world’s governing Olympic body was set to make a decision within four weeks on whether the 2020 Summer Games would be held in line with the initial timeframe.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) was the first among national Olympic committees (NOCs) to declare on Monday a decision against attending the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The same decision was voiced later in the day by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).

"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 official statement from the IOC reads.

"Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan," the IOC stated. "It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020."

COVID-19 Global Spread

On December 31, 2019, the Chinese authorities reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) about an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, an economic and industrial megalopolis with a population of 11 million.

The virus was identified on January 7 as 2019-nCoV. The World Health Organization declared in January that the new coronavirus outbreak was a public health emergency of international concern, characterizing it as an epidemic with multiple locations.

On February 11, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the organization gave the novel coronavirus an official name of COVID-19. On March 11, the World Health Organization officially stated that the continuously spreading novel coronavirus was a global pandemic.

As of today, 196 countries and territories reported confirmed coronavirus cases. According to the latest reports, over 395,500 cases have been confirmed worldwide. The virus’ death toll has reached 17,229, yet more than 103,710 patients have recovered from the disease.