Coronavirus: Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed until next year
Video report by ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until next year amid fears over the coronavirus.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe had called the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday to call for a one-year postponement.
It is the first time ever an Olympics has been postponed during its 126-year history of the modern Games. World War I and II led to the cancellation of the Games in 1916, 1940 and 1944.
In a statement on the Olympic website, it said the Games 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”.
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A statement on the Japanese PM’s official English Twitter confirmed an agreement had been reached to postpone this summer's Olympics.
It read: “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.”
Moving the Games will carry some cost, but it is not anticipated there will be a major clamour from sponsorship and broadcast partners.
Games venues – already built at an estimated cost of over £12billion – will still be utilised if the event does manage to go ahead in 2021.
The IOC said late last week it would make a decision within the next four weeks, but Mr Abe said a postponement is unavoidable if the 2020 Games cannot be held in a complete manner due to Covid-19.
Canada and Australia were among the two major countries which have said it will not send athletes to the Olympics if they go ahead this year. Team GB had said it would pull out of the Games this year if the safety of athletes could not be guaranteed.
Athletes had called for clarity around the situation, with some saying it would be unfair if the Games were to go-ahead as some countries are allowing athletes to train while others are not.
In the UK, gyms, leisure centres and other training facilities have been closed as Boris Johnson ordered people to stay at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Britain's Olympic champion Adam Peaty, who won gold in the 100m breaststroke in Rio 2016, tweeted: "So the Canadians have pulled out of the Olympics and the Australians said they won’t travel if the Olympics are held this summer, World Athletics have also put pressure on IOC to move."Let’s hope FINA do the right thing in the next few days, not weeks."
British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith tweeted: "So wait... does this mean that athletes face up to another FOUR weeks of finding ways to fit in training - whilst potentially putting ourselves, coaches, support staff and loved ones at risk just to find out they were going to be postponed anyway!!!"
More than 387,000 people have been infected with Covid-19 and 16,500 have died from the disease.
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