TOKYO, November 16. /TASS/. President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach has awarded former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe with the Olympic Order, the Committee’s highest award, for Abe’s contributions to the hosting of the games, the IOC said on its Twitter account on Monday.
The IOC posted a picture of Bach giving the award to Abe, who was served as the country’s prime minister when Japan won the bid to host the Summer Olympics in 2020, but stepped down earlier this year due to health reasons. The caption to the picture reads: "Former Japanese PM, Abe Shinzo, receiving the Olympic Movement's highest award, the Olympic Order in Gold."
"Abe helped win the Games for Tokyo in 2013. He later made a surprise appearance at the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, dressed as Super Mario," the IOC Tweeted.
IOC President Bach arrived in Tokyo late on Sunday for a four-day visit. This is Bach’s first visit to Japan ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo after his initially scheduled visit in May was cancelled due to the ongoing global spread of the novel coronavirus.
The IOC (the International Olympic Committee) and the IPC (the International Paralympic Committee) announced on March 24 a decision to postpone for one year the Olympic and Paralympic tournaments in Japan due to the continuous COVID-19 spread.
Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo-2020 Olympics Local Organizing Committee, announced on March 30 that the Summer Olympic Games in Japan next year will start on July 23 and the Summer Paralympic Games will begin on August 24.
Addressing an on-line IOC session in July, Yoshiro Mori stated that all venues and the schedule of competitions would remain unchanged for the 2021 Summer Olympic Games.
The official opening ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo is now scheduled for July 23, 2021, while the closing ceremony is slated for August 8, 2021. The Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo offer 339 sets of medals, which will be contested in 33 sports (50 disciplines).
Global coronavirus crisis
In late December 2019, Chinese officials informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 54,893,870 people have been infected worldwide and more than 1,325,400 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 38,183,980 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.