TOKYO (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed “100 percent” to a proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday.
Abe said after his telephone talks with Bach that he requested a postponement “taking into consideration the current circumstances” and to secure an environment in which athletes can perform at their best and crowds can be safe and secure.
He added that he hoped to reschedule the Olympics as a proof of human victory over the coronavirus pandemic.
"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 Olympic Games and the international community," the IOC said in a statement.
Abe said he expects the pandemic to be over by next year and the Olympics can be held by the summer of 2021 at the latest.
Olympic leaders said they wanted the Tokyo games to "stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times." They decided to keep the Olympic flame in Japan and the Games, when they eventually take place, would keep the name "Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020."
The IOC has faced pressure to postpone the Olympic Games, which are scheduled to start July 24, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The USOPC surveyed more than 4,000 athletes and nearly seven in 10 U.S. Olympic hopefuls say they don't think the Tokyo Games will be fair if they are held in July, prompting leaders of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to conclude "it's more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising."
Hoosier and cycling Olympian Chloe Dygert responded to the IOC's decision to postpone the Games:
"The postponement of the Olympic Games is the best option due the current circumstances, and I fully support the decision made today by the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee. Postponing the Games gives every athlete around the world the opportunity to focus on their well-being and provides us all a fair chance to properly prepare, so we can be at our best when the Games begin. While we navigate these uncertain times, an Olympic Games in 2021 will give us all hope and the opportunity to come together in celebration of good health. Personally, I am happy that the IOC and TOC made this decision sooner rather than later because it allows me to adjust my schedule and refocus on the goals I’ve set for myself. I’m excited to get back to racing, looking forward to Tokyo 2021, and wishing everyone a safe 2020."
Sixty-nine percent said they would feel comfortable competing in July if the World Health Organization — one of the groups consulting with the IOC — deemed it safe. But virtually that same number — 68 percent — said they didn't think the Olympics would be fair under those circumstances.
The best explanation for that has been the massive disruption in training schedules, as athletes prepare for qualifying events this spring and summer.
On Monday, veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound believed the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed, according to USA Today.
Pound told USA Today the games will likely be played in 2021, with all the details to be worked out in the next few weeks. He said the IOC is expected to announce its next steps soon.