AUSTIN (KXAN) — The 2020 Summer Olympics will not be played in July due to public health concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee confirmed Tuesday after media reports.
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he has reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to postpone the games “about a year,” CNN reports.
The IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee released a joint statement that reads, in part:
In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO 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.IOC and Tokyo 2020 committee joint statement
The Olympic flame will stay lit in Japan, and the games will keep the name Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The Paralympics are also postponed and will keep its 2020 name.
“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times,” the statement said, “and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.”
On Sunday, Bach said the committee was considering a postponement and would make a final decision within four weeks
Several Olympic committees across the globe put pressure on the IOC to move the Olympic schedule. Canada and Australia both announced they would not be sending athletes to participate in the Games without a postponement of some kind.
Japanese leaders fell in line with the IOC president’s thinking quickly as it witnessed pressure from committees around the world.
Abe, speaking at a parliamentary session this week, said a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics would be necessary if the games cannot be held in a complete way because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“If it is difficult to hold (the Games) in a complete way, a decision of postponement would be unavoidable,” he said.
Leaders for the U.S. Swimming and Track and Field teams have voiced concerns about going forward with the 2020 event given the current state of the world. The 2020 Summer Olympics were scheduled to begin July 24 and run through Aug. 9.
NBC, who owns the television rights for the 2020 Games, said in a statement it fully supports the IOC’s decisions.
“These are extraordinary and unprecedented times, and we fully support the IOC’s decision to step up its scenario-planning for the Tokyo Olympics. We are prepared to stand behind any decision made by the IOC, the Japanese government, and the world health officials with whom they are working regarding the Tokyo Olympics.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.