After months of speculation concerning the fate of the 2020 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government reached an agreement today to cancel this summer’s event and reschedule it for “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”, reports Ella Chochrek of Footwear News.
Pressure to cancel the Olympics, which had been slated to begin on July 24, has been mounting as the number of global coronavirus cases rise. Both Canada and Australia already announced that they would not be sending athletes to the Olympics this summer, calling on the IOC to postpone the Games to 2021.
In a statement Sunday, the IOC announced that it was mulling several options, including going ahead with the event as scheduled or delaying it. Sports federations, public health authorities and even countries including Canada and Australia had urged the governing body to rethink its plans to hold the event in July.
” We are in a dilemma: Cancellation of the Olympic Games would destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes,” IOC president Thomas Bach wrote in a letter Sunday. “Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody. Therefore, it is not on our agenda. … Contrary to other sports events, to postpone the Olympic Games is an extremely complex challenge.”
For weeks, the IOC had been steadfast in saying that the Games would take place as planned, despite rising coronavirus concerns internationally that have led to strict quarantines in some cases and to the cancellation of sporting events in many countries.
For instance, the Italian National Olympic Committee has suspended all teams sports competition through April 3. And in the U.S., high-profile events such as March Madness, the BNP Paribas Open and the Boston Marathon have all either been canceled or rescheduled. Meanwhile, sports leagues including the MLB, NBA and NHL have pushed back their seasons amid escalating coronavirus concerns.
Internationally, coronavirus cases have climbed to over 392,000, with more than 17,000 fatalities recorded, according to Johns Hopkins data.