Tokyo, March 25: Several sporting events are being canceled or postponed due to the rise in deadly coronavirus cases across the world. The International Olympics Committee after facing pressure from various National Olympic Committee has agreed with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to postpone the Tokyo Olympics 2020 until 2021 on Tuesday through a conference call.
In a friendly and constructive meeting, the IOC president Thomas Bach ad PM Shinzo Abe have decided that a postponement is the only logical option as it is significantly impacting the athlete's preparations for the Games. While sharing concerns about the escalation of the virus, they have come on terms that the date will be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but before 2021 summer.
The statement read, "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."
The decision came after rising pressure from various nations backing down from the Games if not postpone as the qualifying events were suspended and also could adversely affect the health of the athletes. Australia and Canada both announced they would not be sending athletes to Tokyo this year, and along with these nations late on, the USA, Germany, and Poland also called for the Games to be postponed until 2021. Sporting teams including USA Track and Field and USA Swimming also called for a postponement.
Meanwhile, athletes who have been unable to train due to closed facilities and restricted access to coaches and training partners have also raised their voices opposing the Games to proceed as planned. Similarly, many sporting events across the globe have been suspended amid the virus include with the major tournament- Euro 2020 being moved to next year.
The IOC has said so far only 57 percent of athletes have been qualified for the forthcoming games, though the Olympic flame was lit on March 12 in Greece as planned and it had arrived in Japan on Friday. Nonetheless, they agreed to keep the flame in Japan. "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. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020."
Nevertheless, many athletes have welcomed this decision. Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, too, has welcomed this saying, "I welcome the decision of IOC to postpone #Tokyo2020 in view of the global pandemic. It's necessary for the well being of athletes from across the world. I urge our athletes not to lose heart. We'll create better opportunities so that we can have India's best medal tally in 2021."