The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will be postponed to "no later than summer 2021" due to coronavirus.
IOC president Thomas Bach and Japan prime minister Abe Shinzo held a conference call today (Tuesday), when they expressed their concern about the pandemic and its impact on the viability of the tournament going ahead.
Fans, media and sponsors will have to put their plans on hold. Among the worldwide partners are Airbnb, Alibaba, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Dow, GE, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Toyota and Visa. Gold partners include Asahi, Canon and Fujitsu.
The IOC said in a statement: "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."
Speculation that Tokyo 2020 would be curtailed had been gathering pace, with news of a delay mounting following a story by USA Today yesterday. IOC member Dick Pound told the newspaper that the event would be suspended until 2021. He said: "On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided.
"The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on 24 July – that much I know."
Until a few days ago, the IOC and Tokyo’s organising committee had said there were no plans to delay the competition, but there were rumblings suggesting otherwise.
Doubts began to gather earlier this week, when Canada and Australia said they would not be sending athletes to Tokyo. The chairman of the British Olympic Association had said that Great Britain would be unlikely to send a team, while former Olympian and World Athletics president Sebastian Coe called for postponement.