The International Olympic Committee has postponed this year’s Summer Olympics amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Five Olympic Games have been cancelled because of the first and second World Wars.
But never in the 124 year history of the Olympics has a Games been postponed, as Hilman Hambali reports.
SHINZO ABE: [speaking in Japanese]
HILMAN HAMBALI: There would be “no cancellation of the Tokyo Olympic or Paralympics,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said to the media. Prime Minister Abe’s plea for a one year postponement is the first confirmation that the Games will not happen – at least not this year. Just weeks earlier, the IOC President Thomas Bach said the Olympics would still go ahead as planned.
THOMAS BACH: The IOC remains fully committed to the success of the Tokyo Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020.
HILMAN HAMBALI: This all changed when the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it would boycott the Games if they were to go ahead this year. The Australian Olympic Committee soon followed, as CEO Matt Carroll told the media.
MATT CARROLL: We’ve decided to plan towards the hosting of a games in 2021 in Tokyo
HILMAN HAMBALI: The IOC then gave itself four weeks to decide the outcome of the games but swiftly acted one day later, to postpone the event.
THOMAS BACH: The World Health Organization speaks of the acceleration of the spreading of the virus so we were addressing this situation and came to the conclusion that, in order to safeguard the health of the athletes and everybody involved in the Olympic Games, we have to postpone the Olympics and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 to the year 2021, with the aim to have it there at the latest in summer time 2021.
HILMAN HAMBALI: The Games would still be branded as Tokyo 2020 and athletes who had already qualified would still be eligible to compete in next year’s games. The dates for the event were also kept during the same time frame as this year shifting only one day from the original schedule. Mr Bach said these games will give us something to celebrate at the end of the pandemic.
THOMAS BACH: We are all humankind. We are in a very dark tunnel at this moment in time and we do not know how long this tunnel might be. But we are confident with these Olympic Games at this new date then we can be the light at the end of this dark tunnel and we can therefore give hope to the athletes of the world, but also to the wider public, that there is something happening there next year, which can unite the world and as Prime Minister Abe said,unite the world in celebration of humanity for a victory against this virus.