The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 have agreed to delay the Olympic Games until no later than the summer of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a conference call between IOC President Thomas Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and a number of other officials it was agreed that the Games should be delayed until beyond 2020 to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.
“Yes, there will be an Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. So the athletes will have the chance and the opportunity of their life, to make their Olympic dream come true even in these uncertain times, and their preparations will need the cooperation of everybody. And also the understanding in particular of the athletes. They have to come together and address this unprecedented situation together,” Bach says.
The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times.
“If we do so, if we are all standing together and everybody makes his or her contribution, then I am really confident that in the end these Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be the light at the end of this dark tunnel we are all going through together now, and we all want to see the Olympic Flame at the end of this dark tunnel.”
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith says his committee supports the decision.
“New Zealand athletes were surveyed yesterday and told us they were ready to support this extremely tough decision. We know they are adaptable and resilient, and they understand that this decision is necessary to ensure a fair field of play and protect the health of both athletes and the wider global."
He says the committee will immediately contact and offer support to athletes.
"We will also work through plans with our performance partners HPSNZ and the New Zealand sporting bodies.
“We acknowledge this has been a very difficult situation for both the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and we thank them for listening to our athletes and athletes worldwide to provide some certainty. We are committed to playing our role in making 'Tokyo 2020' next year a success.”
The Olympic flame will stay in Japan and the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.