Two years ago today, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) along with the Tokyo organizers and Japanese government have agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games due to the threat of COVID pandemic. The Games, due to begin on July 24, took place “by the summer of 2021 at the latest”. This is the first time, in 124 years of modern history, that the Olympics have been moved. Read more from OBN to get similar stories.
“We have agreed that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held by the summer of 2021 at the latest,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. “We agreed that a postponement would be the best way to ensure that the athletes are in peak condition when they compete and to guarantee the safety of the spectators,” Abe told reporters shortly after his conference call with IOC President Thomas Bach.
In 2020, emergency crisis talks were held over the phone between Bach and Abe, who requested to have the Games postponed. In a joint statement shortly after Abe talked to the media, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the IOC said: “The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.”
The statement also said that the organizers decided the Olympic torch should remain in Japan until the Olympics begin to “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.” Despite taking place in 2021, the Games will still be called Tokyo 2020.
It was the first time that the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed. Several Olympics have been cancelled, not moved, due to war including the 1916, 1940, 1944 Games. During the postponement, COVID-19 have infected over 400,000 people worldwide and reached nearly 18,000 deaths. In Japan, over 1,000 cases have been reported with 42 fatalities and 285 recoveries.
“Further discussion will have to figure out how exactly this process will take shape,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said in a separate interview. “Not only has the construction of venues, but Tokyo, as the host city, made many preparations leading up to this event,” she added. Previously, Koike said a cancellation “would have been devastating to the Japanese people.”
Prior to the postponement, Canada and Australia said in separate statements that they will halt their athletes from participating in the Games if it is pushed through this year. It was also confirmed that the vice president of Japan Olympic Committee and the current president of Japan Football Association (JFA), Kozo Tashima was confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics may be the biggest sporting event hit by the global pandemic. Earlier, the UEFA Euro 2020 and CONMEBOL Copa America was already announced to be postponed for a year due to the global pandemic. The Indian Premier League (IPL) also postponed the start of the new season for 17 days that has a possibility of extending.
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