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Tokyo Olympics Officially Postponed Until 2021

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach made the official announcement that the 2020 Olympics would be postponed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This marks the first time the Olympic Games have been postponed or cancelled for something other than war. 

Despite the postponement, the games will still be called the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 when they take place sometime next year. Until then, the Olympic flame will remain stored and displayed in Fukushima, Japan. 

“[T]he IOC president and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games … 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,” said a joint statement by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the IOC.

The decision to postpone the games came just 48 hours after the IOC said it would give itself four weeks to make a decision about the Olympics. While there were talks from both the Japanese government and the IOC that the games could continue to proceed as planned, there was mounting pressure from athletes and nations alike that began to mount in recent days. 

The decision to postpone has been met with understanding from athletes who see the importance of competing in an environment that is safe for all. The financial impact, however, will be staggering to say the least. 

Tokyo organizers have estimated that the cost to Japan will cost roughly $12.6 billion, but some experts estimate that could go as high as $25 billion. A delay will cost broadcasters, networks, and sponsors billions that have already been spent in preparation. 

Faced with an unimaginable situation, the IOC and Tokyo organizers said they hope the decision to postpone the games will give the world a chance to heal from the devastation caused by this ongoing pandemic. “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,” the IOC statement said.

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