Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and IOC President Thomas Bach have reached an agreement to postpone the Olympics until no later than the summer of 2021.
Abe said on Tuesday that Bach agreed “100 per cent” with the decision to postpone the event amid the COVID-19 pandemic and risks.
The Summer Olympics had been one of the last major international sporting competitions to not postpone or cancel in light of the coronavirus outbreak, despite concerns for health and a number of qualifying events being scrapped.
The postponement comes after a chorus of criticism aimed at the IOC’s response to the pandemic.
On Sunday, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it would not be sending athletes to the Summer Games if they went ahead as scheduled and began this July.
“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health,” Team Canada said in a statement Sunday. “With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games. In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”
Team Canada became the first to announce it would not attend the Games amid the outbreak, and support from athletes, the public, and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed.
While he said the decision was heartbreaking, Trudeau noted it was the right thing to do.
Australia also said it would not be sending its athletes to the Games in July.
Meanwhile, former athlete and six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser applauded the postponement, saying it was the “best case scenario given the circumstances.”
“The message athletes deserved to hear. To all the athletes: take a breath, regroup, take care of yourself and your families. Your time will come,” she added.”
Very happy to hear @Tokyo2020 moved to 2021. Best case scenario given the circumstances. The message athletes deserved to hear. To all the athletes: take a breath, regroup, take care of yourself and your families. Your time will come. #tokyo2021
— Hayley Wickenheiser (@wick_22) March 24, 2020
-With files from Lisa Steacy and Renee Bernard