Serious rumblings of a postponement of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo began over the weekend, and are now official. Per the Wall Street Journal, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach by phone on Tuesday, and the two agreed that putting off the Games amid the coronavirus pandemic was the best plan of action. Abe says he suggested a delay of a year or so, and that Bach was in "100% agreement" with him. Although Abe hasn't mentioned an exact date, he says that both the Olympics and Paralympics will be held "by the summer of 2021 at the latest," and that research will commence ASAP on where to go from here.
A joint statement from the IOC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee notes the move was made "to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games, and the international community." It adds that the Games will retain the branding of "Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020." The New York Times notes the financial implications and logistical headache of making such a decision, especially in regard to timing: Putting the Games off two years, for example, would have butted up against the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, as well as soccer's World Cup at the end of that year. This will be the first Olympics postponed or canceled since 1940, when both Tokyo and then Helsinki had to pull out of hosting due to World War II; the Games for that year were eventually nixed. (Read more 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)