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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are officially postponed for a year amid concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement was made by the International Olympic Committee and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe.

The IOC and the Prime Minister said in the statement that the Tokyo games must be postponed to “safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community”.

The statement said the Tokyo games will be rescheduled “no later than summer 2021”, and the event will retain the Tokyo 2020 name.

This is the first time in history that the start of an Olympics will be delayed to another year.

The IOC and Abe further explained the decision in the joint statement:

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 375,000 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 Olympic Games and the international community.

Olympic leaders decided the Olympic flame will remain in Japan, with the idea of the Games standing “as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times”.

The Games were scheduled to begin July 24 with the Opening Ceremony, and last until August 9 with the Closing Ceremony.