This is the second time that a the global crisis has affected Games due to be held in Japan: Tokyo would have been the venue of the cancelled 1940 Summer event.
The UN and the Olympic flags are raised at headquarters shortly before the torch ceremony.
The decision to postpone the 2020
Summer Olympics which were due to take place in Japan was based on information
provided by the World Health Organisation on the fast-spreading COVID-19
This is according to a statement
released by the International Olympic Committee. The statement signed jointly
with the United Nations, and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee referred to
the words of the WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who warned on Tuesday
that the virus pandemic is ‘accelerating’, with the number of confirmed global
cases rising from 200,000 to 300,000 in just four days.
The likelihood of the Games
taking place on time receded in the days leading up to the decision, with
Canada and Australia announcing that they would not send athletes to Tokyo this
Summer and a number of other countries openly called for a postponement,
because of the spread of COVID-19.
IOC President, Thomas Bach, and
Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, expressed concern for the effect that the
pandemic is having on people’s lives and the significant impact that it is
having on elite athletes’ preparations for the Games.
The leaders announced that the
Games will be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but no later than Summer 2021,
to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic
Games and the international community”.
However, the Games, even though
they have been moved to next year, will retain the official name “Olympic and
Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020”. The Olympic flame will stay lit, and remain in
The decision to delay the event
will mark the first time that the Games have not taken place as scheduled,
since 1944. They were cancelled in 1916 due to World War One, and neither the
1940 nor the 1944 Olympics took place, because of World War Two.
This is the second time that a
the global crisis has affected Games due to be held in Japan: Tokyo would have been
the venue of the cancelled 1940 Summer event.
Sport has been recognized by the
UN as an “important enabler” of sustainable development, and is included in the
UN’s 2030 Agenda. The UN and the International Olympic Committee have worked
closely together for several years, in recognition of the contribution that
sport plays in development and peace.
The IOC was granted Permanent Observer status by the UN
General Assembly in 2009, enabling the IOC to be directly involved in the UN
Agenda and to attend UN General Assembly meetings where it can take the floor,
thus providing the possibility to promote sport at a new level.