International Olympic Committee made the smart decision by postponing the Tokyo Olympics

Tanya Simon
March 24, 2020

The IOC confirmed the decision 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 worldwide community".

The Olympic flame will remain in Japan, where it had begun its journey toward Tokyo, and the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games will still be called the 2020 Tokyo Games, unusual but smart decisions.

Update: Tuesday afternoon, Discovery released the following statement about the postponement: "Discovery fully supports the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee's plan to stage the Olympic Games in 2021 and to make every effort to ensure the well-being of spectators, athletes, staff and the global community".

In a statement sent to insidethegames, an IOC spokesperson confirmed the organisation is today "discussing with the Japanese Government, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the IOC Executive Board about the scenario planning, including the postponement of the Games, and will communicate in due course".

"Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan".

But as pressure mounted to provide some kind of certainty that would allow athletes and others to reconfigure their plans and as the World Health Organization said Monday that the spread of COVID-19 is "accelerating", it became clear Bach would have to move quickly and that unraveling the logistics of moving the dates of the Games would have to wait until later.

"My interpretation of the IOC's communications is they don't want to cancel, and they don't think they can continue with the July 24 date", senior International Olympic Committee official Dick Pound told AFP.

Pound also told USA Today the ramifications of postponing the Games would be "immense".

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Russian Federation itself has reported 306 cases of the virus, a lot of them in Moscow, and one coronavirus-related death. The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 339,000 people and killed over 14,700 people worldwide.

"The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on 24th July, that much I know".

A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee only went so far as re-confirming its earlier statement that it will be exploring all options.

Organizers repeatedly dismissed calls to delay or cancel the games earlier this year but in recent days had signaled a willingness to consider postponement.

Snow falls on the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium in Tokyo, Saturday, March 14, 2020.

He says the IOC's Thomas Bach agreed with him 100 per cent.

Anson said the British Olympic governing body had "incredible sympathy" for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and the IOC.

The statement added that "cancellation is not on the agenda".

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