Amid increasing pressure the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 and Paralympic Games 2020 have been postponed until next year.
The showpiece of world sport will not go ahead ‘no later than summer 2021’.
The only other times the Olympic Games have been cancelled since the inaugural modern event in Athens, Greece, in 1896, was due to war.
In 1916, the Games due in Berlin were called off during the First World War.
The same happened in the Second World War. Coincidentally, the Tokyo Games 1940 were abandoned along with the London Games in 1944.
Postponement only option
In a joint statement, the organisers of Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee said: “The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.
“The director general of the World Health Organization, 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, 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 IOC and Japanese government have stalled on making the decision to postpone, but caved in after pressure from the Us, UK, Canada, Australia and other nations who said they would pull out if the Tokyo Games 2020 opened as planned on July 24.
Paralympics 2020 off
International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parson said postponement was the only option.
“The health and wellbeing of human life must always be our number-one priority and staging a sporting event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible,” he said.
“Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is. It is essential, therefore, that all steps are taken to try to limit the spread of this disease.
“By taking this decision now, everyone involved in the Paralympic movement, including all Para-athletes, can fully focus on their own health and wellbeing and staying safe during this unprecedented and difficult time.”