In response to the ongoing global spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Tuesday. Though it's not 100% certain at the moment when exactly the 2020 Olympics will be held, the Summer Games will not be cancelled and "will be held by the summer of 2021." The 2020 Summer Olympics had been scheduled to start on July 24.
"The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating," Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC and Abe said in a joint statement, adding that they'd been advised by Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the COVID-19 pandemic is "accelerating."
As of March 23, there have been over 332,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and more than 14,500 deaths, according to data from WHO.
"In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, 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 statement continued.
Abe and Bach also said that the rescheduled Olympic Games will still take place in Tokyo and will still be referred to "Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020."
"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 statement concluded.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have joined a long list of events that have either been cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic as health officials have urged that practicing social distancing can help "flatten the curve," a term that refers to "protective practices to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection so hospitals have room, supplies and doctors for all of the patients who need care," Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins, explained in a recent article for The Johns Hopkins University.
Before an official announcement had been made about postponing the 2020 Summer Games, Olympic athletes were supportive of doing so. In an interview with CBS This Morning on Monday, Team USA Olympic runner Manteo Mitchell said, "It's definitely way beyond sports, it's all about health and safety of not only yourself but the ones around you."
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