Breaking News

Expertise impresses President

Government and the private sector should continue working together in tapping the large pool of local skills and ...

Get breaking news alerts.
Don't miss a thing.
Subscribe

Tokyo Olympic Games postponed

25 Mar, 2020 - 00:03 0 Views
Tokyo Olympic Games postponed DECISION TIME . . . International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, took a call from Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abbe, yesterday and agreed to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics — the first time the Games have been postponed, in peace time, in their history — Getty Images

The Herald

LONDON. — The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed until next year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The event, due to begin on July 24, will now take place “no later than summer 2021”, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed yesterday.

“I proposed to postpone for a year and (IOC) president Thomas Bach responded with 100 percent agreement,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

The Tokyo Paralympic Games will also be postponed until 2021.

The event will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite taking place in 2021, the IOC said.

Abe said Bach was in “100 percent agreement” when Japan asked the IOC to push back the Games.

In a joint statement, the pair said that based on current World Health Organisation information, the Tokyo Games “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”.

“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.

“Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the statement concluded.

The decision will be a devastating blow for the city of Tokyo, which had won widespread praise for its organisation, with venues finished well ahead of time and tickets massively oversubscribed.

The Olympics, which has experienced boycotts, terrorist attacks and protests, but has been held every four years since 1948, would be the highest-profile event affected by the virus that has killed thousands and closed sports competitions worldwide.

The IOC has come under increasing pressure in recent days to postpone the Games, scheduled to start on July 24, with 1.7 billion people across the planet in lockdown to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.

Training has become impossible for many athletes and exposes them to the risk of contracting or spreading the disease. Competitions and qualifiers have been scrapped, while international travel is severely limited.

On Sunday, the IOC had initially given itself a deadline of four weeks to come up with a proposal to postpone the Games, a Herculean task that touches on every aspect of Tokyo 2020 planning from venues to security to ticketing.

But after Canada and Australia withdrew their teams and the powerful US Olympic Committee and World Athletics also joined the chorus calling for a postponement, the writing was on the wall.

Tokyo was spending some US$12.6 billion to host the Games, according to its latest budget, and experts believe a postponement could cost it some US$6 billion in the short-term before recouping it when they eventually go ahead.

It will also be a bitter blow to sponsors and major broadcasters who rely on the four-yearly extravaganza for critical advertising revenue.

It is not the first time Tokyo has seen unscheduled changes to the Games — it was due to be the first Asian country to host the Olympics in 1940 before pulling out due to international pressure over its war with China.

The IOC came under fire for taking so long to make its decision after other major events such as the European Football Championships already announced postponements.

But Tokyo 2020 organisers had pointed to the unparalleled complexity — not to mention cost — of shifting the Games. It is not even clear venues will be available and tens of thousands of hotel rooms will need to be cancelled and rebooked.

“It is mind-bogglingly complex to make a sudden change after seven years of preparation for the biggest sporting event in the world,” Michael Payne, the IOC’s former head of marketing, said.

Squeezing in the 16-day Games into what will already be a hugely crowded 2021 calendar is another major headache, with arguably the two biggest sports, swimming and athletics, due to hold their world championships that summer.

However, World Athletics has already said it was prepared to shift its world championships, scheduled for August 6-15 next year in Oregon, to accommodate a rescheduled Games. — BBC Sport.

Share This:

Sponsored Links