The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until next year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
The event, due to begin on 24 July, will now take place “no later than summer 2021”.
“I proposed to postpone for a year and [IOC] president Thomas Bach responded with 100% agreement,” said Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister.
The event will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite taking place in 2021.
In a joint statement, the organisers of Tokyo 2020 and the IOC said: “The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.
“On Monday, the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘accelerating’.
“There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.
“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today [Tuesday], 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.”
While the Games is the biggest sporting event to be affected by the pandemic, there has been a huge impact on a host of other major tournaments and sports:
In rugby union, the end of this year’s Six Nations was postponed, with four outstanding fixtures to be rearranged in the men’s tournament.
In football, Euro 2020 was postponed and will be played in the summer of 2021, while the sport is suspended in the UK until 30 April at the earliest.
The first eight grands prix of the Formula 1 season have been delayed, with the Monaco Grand Prix cancelled.
County cricket in England and Wales will not be played before 28 May, while England’s three-Test series against West Indies, due to start at The Oval on 4 June, is in doubt.
All forms of professional tennis have been postponed until 7 June, ruling out the clay-court season, while the French Open – the year’s second Grand Slam, has been rescheduled for September.
Golf’s Masters and PGA Championship have both been postponed, with a decision yet to be made about September’s Ryder Cup.
The London Marathon has been moved from 26 April to 4 October.
The IOC had given itself a deadline of four weeks to consider delaying the Games but there had been mounting pressure from a host of Olympic committees and athletes demanding a quicker decision.
Canada became the first major country to withdraw from both events on Sunday, while USA Track and Field, athletics’ US governing body, had also called for a postponement.
International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parson said the postponement was “the only logical option”.