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Coronavirus impact Japan and IOC agree to one-year delay to Tokyo 2020 Games

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The Sankei newspaper has reported that Japan’s government is negotiating with the IOC to postpone the Games by up to a year, in what would be a first in the Olympics’ 124-year modern history. 

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach have agreed to delay the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games by about one year. Switzerland had previously called for the event to be postponed. 

Abe, who spoke to Bach on Tuesday amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, said Japan would hold the Games by the summer of 2021 at the latest. Japan had completed preparations for this summer’s competitions when the virus started spreading.

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In the past few days, various sporting organisations and individuals had called for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed owing to the coronavirus pandemic, including Switzerland’s top sporting body. 

Swiss Olympic wrote to the Lausanne-based IOC at the weekend asking to put the event on hold until the pandemic was under control worldwide. 

“Under these conditions, we do not believe that a fair, global Olympic Games in the sense of the Olympic movement are possible. That is why we applied to the IOC for a postponement,” Swiss Olympic President Jürg Stahl said in a statementexternal link.

“Athletes are suffering from difficult training conditions. Moreover, the first countries have now cancelled their participation in the Olympics,” he said.

“The Olympic Games send a sign of hope, confidence and joie de vivre – but only if they can be experienced safely and peacefully by all athletes from all countries, by volunteers, officials and the public.”  

‘Safe and secure’

Abe said on Tuesday he had asked the IOC “to consider postponement of about one year to make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and to make the event a safe and secure one for spectators”. He said Bach had agreed “100%”.

Australia and Canada withdrew from the Games on Monday and the United States added its weight to other calls for the Tokyo Games to be postponed. 

The coronavirus pandemic has now infected more than 377,000 people across 194 countries and territories as of Tuesday morning, according to a Reuters tally, with over 16,500 deaths linked to the virus.

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