The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has been postponed by one year until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Olympics was due to be held in Japan from July 24 to August 9, while the Paralympics was set to run from August 25 to September 6, but both have now been rescheduled for next year.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says the Games will be held no later than the summer of 2021 but the event will still be called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The IOC said in a statement: “In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the World Health Organisation 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.”
Pressure had been mounting on the IOC, the local organisers and the Japanese government to confirm a delay, with athletes around the globe unable to train due to social distancing measures imposed to limit the spread of the virus and a number of teams already pulling their teams out of the Games.
The postponement is the first in the Olympics’ 124-year history, having only ever previously been cancelled in wartime.
The Olympic flame will remain in Japan, and is being stored and displayed in Fukushima.
The IOC statement continued: “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 Olympic flame arrived in Japan last week after a torch lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia, Greece, and a domestic relay of the flame had been due to kick off on Thursday.
But pressure on the IOC to postpone this summer’s Games intensified in recent days, with Canada and Australia refusing to participate if the Games went ahead while the United States had called for its postponement.