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2020 Olympic Games postponed due to coronavirus pandemic

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

12:28 24 Mar 2020

The 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed after Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a request to the International Olympics Committee.

Abe spoke to IOC president Thomas Bach on Tuesday and both parties agreed to delay the games by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The news comes just two days after the IOC set a four-week deadline to make a decision amid mounting pressure to call off the Games which were due to start on July 24.

On Monday night it looked increasingly unlikely that Tokyo would stage the games this year as veteran IOC board member Dick Pound said that they would be postponed.

"The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know," said Pound.

Before Pound's comments, Canada became the first nation to withdraw its athletes and they were followed by Norway while Team Ireland boxer Kellie Harrington called for a postponement on OTB AM.

"I think they should be postponed," the Dublin pugilist said on Monday's OTB AM, "I don't think they should be cancelled.

"I just think that [the IOC] need to make a call on that sooner rather than later because it is bad enough that [we the athletes] are stuck in our houses, but now we're stuck in our houses still trying to get training in.

"It's kind of crazy and it is really tough for some athletes to try and fit the correct training in around all of these restrictions."

On Monday evening the Olympic Federation of Ireland president Sarah Keane was canvassing the opinions of Irish athletes and refusing to make any final call until the IOC did.

"We have heard the latest update from the IOC regarding the Games, and we await in due course further information from them," Keane said.

"However, we need to consider what’s right for our athletes, coaches, federations and all involved in supporting the system in Ireland at this time.

"We can and are providing input into the IOC as the ultimate decision making body for the 2020 Olympic Games. However, we can make decisions in Ireland for the best of Team Ireland and all involved."

The official IOC statement reads:

"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.

"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 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."

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