Another sporting blow as Olympic Games postponed to 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

The 2020 Olympic Games which were scheduled to take place in June will be postponed by one year due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) made the decision after Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe asked members to postpone the Games due to measures taken to combat COVID-19.

The decision ended weeks of speculation over whether the Games would go ahead in the summer.

The IOC had said it would make a decision in four weeks' time but came under mounting pressure to postpone the Games now.

In a statement the IOC said: "In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the World Health Organisation 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."

Britain, Australia and Canada had already pulled out of the major sporting event.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said that holding the Olympics in Tokyo later this year is "neither feasible nor desirable."

He added: "No-one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed but as I have said publicly, we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety, and a decision on the Olympic Games must become very obvious very quickly.”

Lord Coe identified three areas of most concern: fairness of competition, risk of injury, and the emotional well-being of competitors.

He said that differing impediments to training worldwide, with some countries hit harder than others so far by the virus, meant that the level playing field would not be balanced and that many athletes were struggling to train in various countries due to measures put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

This is the first time in the Olympics 124 year history that the event has been postponed,although they have been cancelled three times - in 1916, 1940 and 1944 due to the two world wars.

Meanwhile, the Paralympics, which were scheduled for August this year have been postponed.

Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said the postponement was "the only logical option".

He added: "The health and wellbeing of human life must always be our number-one priority and staging a sporting event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible.

"Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is. It is essential, therefore, that all steps are taken to try to limit the spread of this disease.

In January, qualifying events that included boxing and women’s football were the first fixtures to be cancelled as the virus continued to spread. They were meant to take place in Wuhan, China -the centre of the coronavirus outbreak

There have now been almost 400,000 recorded cases of the virus worldwide, with the number of deaths approaching 16,000. A further 87 people have died in the UK in the last 24 hours.

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