Per BBC News, the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have agreed to a one-year postponement of the event because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the International Olympic Committee had agreed to delay the global games, which were due to begin on July 24.
“I proposed to postpone for about a year and [IOC] president Thomas Bach responded with 100% agreement,” Abe said.
The Prime Minister added that this would also apply to the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
He said: “This will make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and will make the event a safe and secure one for spectators.”
The decision came after a number of nations and athletes involved in the Games spoke out against holding the event this summer amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Per The Telegraph, the decision was made over a phone call earlier today (Monday, March 24,) between IOC president Thomas Bach and Abe.
In the Olympics’ 124-year history, this is the first time a postponement of this nature has ever been arranged.
Global Athlete, an organization that represents athletes, said in a statement the IOC’s previous reluctance to cancel the Games was “unacceptable” and “irresponsible”.
The statement read:
“Covid-19 virus will sadly take more lives, and without a clear answer, athletes are still being indirectly asked to train. If anyone knows how competitive athletes work, they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. We understand it is a difficult decision, but the IOC and IPC have a duty of care towards athletes which they have not exercised. A clear message should have been sent to all athletes to stop training and observe Government mandates to self-isolate. Sport should never be prioritized ahead of public health.”