Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has confirmed that his request to postpone the summer Olympic games until next year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak has been approved.
The 2020 Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Tokyo between July and August, but concerns over athletes travelling during the pandemic has led to weeks of speculation over the cancellation or postponement of the games.
Abe held talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach at the beginning of the week. They agreed that the postponement was necessary because of the measures taken worldwide to halt the spread of the virus.
The firm decision on this postponement comes after several countries have either pulled out of the games entirely or urged for a postponement.
Olympic officials in the United States urged the IOC to consider a postponement while Canada and Australia had already said they would not be sending athletes if the games were to go ahead this year.
In addition, athletes had also voiced their concern as training for the games had become more difficult depending on their country’s state of lockdown.
“Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner,” the committee said in a statement.
This postponement further emphasises the seriousness of this pandemic. The Olympics have never before been postponed, but they have been cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the two world wars.