The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have officially been postponed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, marking the first time the Olympic Games have been postponed or canceled for something other than war.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the International Olympic and Tokyo 2020 organizing committees said that a meeting between IOC President Thomas Bach and Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo came to the conclusion “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 to postpone the Olympics came just two days after the IOC said it would take up to four weeks to determine the fate of this year’s games, which were scheduled to commence with the torch relay in Fukushima on July 24.
“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,” the statement added.
The Olympics have been postponed before — once in 1916 because of World War I and again in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II — but never because of something like the coronavirus pandemic, making this particular situation a rather unprecedented one.
According to Johns Hopkins University, a whopping 407,485 cases of coronavirus have been reported in 169 countries/regions around the world and that number is growing steadily by the hour. More than 18,200 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported worldwide, with Italy leading at nearly 7,000.