Japan and IOC reach deal to postpone Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Update: Per earlier reports, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has agreed with the International Olympics Committee’s decision to delay the games. No word yet on timing, but the games will likely be held next summer, but still referred as “Tokyo 2020 Olympics” in spite of the new timing. From the joint release,

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 an interview with USA Today, International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound confirmed suggestions that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be delayed. The IOC committee veteran didn’t lay out specifics, but suggested that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could delay the games until 2021.

“We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense,” Pound told the paper, adding that specific decisions would “come in stages.” Details on the decision (along with official confirmation) are likely to emerge at some point in the next month. “The parameters going forward have not been determined,” he added, “but the games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

The news comes after both Canada and Australia noted over the weekend that they would not be sending athletes to the games this year. Earlier today, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested that the events could be delayed, while adding that canceling them outright was “not an option.” In addition to prestige, the games are a source of major economic windfall for the host country.

A spokesperson for the IOC only went so far as re-confirming its earlier statement that it will be exploring all options. While it’s impossible to know precisely what the COVID-19 situation will look like come summer, the impact of the virus has had such a profound impact on every aspect of life, it has seemed increasingly unlikely that the Olympics would be able to proceed as scheduled.