The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and the prime minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, held a conference call this morning to discuss the constantly changing regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Summer Olympics that were scheduled to begin in Tokyo on Friday, July 24 and were to end on Sunday, August 9.
UPDATE: The Tokyo Olympics will now take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
They were joined by Mori Yoshiro, the President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee; the Olympic Minister, Hashimoto Seiko; the Governor of Tokyo, Koike Yuriko; the Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission, John Coates; IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper; and the IOC Olympic Games Executive Director, Christophe Dubi.
President Bach and Prime Minister Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide pandemic, and what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games.
In a very friendly and constructive meeting, the two leaders praised the work of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and noted the great progress being made in Japan to fight against COVID-19.
The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “accelerating.” There are more than 392,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.
In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO 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 Summer Olympics and the international community. In North America, the Games will be broadcast by the NBC network.
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.
After hosting the Olympic Games in 1964, organizers of the event in 2020 said the Tokyo Summer Olympics will be ‘the most innovative ever organized, and will rest on three fundamental principles to transform the world: striving for your personal best (achieving your personal best); accepting one another (unity in diversity); and passing on a legacy for the future (connecting to tomorrow).”
Aligning with the reforms advocated by Olympic Agenda 2020, the Summer Olympics will use as many existing competition venues as possible, namely those built for the Games in 1964, such as the prestigious Nippon Budokkan for judo, the Baji Koen Park for equestrian events, and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium for handball. The Tokyo National Stadium, where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and athletics competitions will be staged, will be completely revamped and replaced by a new arena.
Japan has been an Olympic land since the Summer Olympics of 1964, which were the first to be staged in Asia. The country previously also hosted the Winter Games of 1972 in Sapporo and of 1998 in Nagano.