The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have officially been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee made the announcement following a conference call with Japanese officials this morning.
From their joint statement:
“President Bach and Prime Minister Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games.
“In a very friendly and constructive meeting, the two leaders praised the work of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and noted the great progress being made in Japan to fight against COVID-19.
“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘accelerating.’ There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.
“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 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.”
The decision comes the morning after the US Olympic Committee’s call to postpone the Games, a sentiment shared by several National Federations. Canada and Australia said they would not send athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games unless it was postponed until 2021; Ireland and Great Britain also indicated that they were considering withdrawal; and New Zealand was also vocal in its call for postponement.
The USEF responded as follows:
“We received official confirmation today from the IOC and Organizing Committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games that in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic both organizations have jointly decided to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to 2021. Prioritizing the safety and health of athletes, staff, and spectators is paramount during this challenging time, and we applaud and support their difficult decision.
“The postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is unprecedented in modern history, and we know that there will be many challenges ahead, but remain committed to working with the USOPC and the FEI to ensure the success of our teams and athletes in 2021.
“We are deeply disappointed for our athletes and their teams, the coaches, support staff, horse owners, sponsors, and USET Foundation donors and supporters who have wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to the Olympic and Paralympic dream, but in the face of adversity, our athletes continually persevere and we know they will be prepared to represent our country to the best of their abilities next year.
“We also understand that this decision will impact many, and as we wait to understand the revised approach of the IOC and Organizing Committee in the coming weeks, we will continue to provide updates and information to our athletes, stakeholders, sponsors, and fans. This is a trying time for our community and we look forward to the incredible feeling of watching our athletes inspire others and embody the Olympic and Paralympic spirit next year in Tokyo.”