The 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games scheduled to hold in Japan in July and August have been postponed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Tokyo Olympics, due to begin on July 24, will now take place “no later than summer 2021”.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had earlier insisted on the event going ahead this summer, announced on Tuesday evening that he and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Thomas Bach had agreed on the postponement.
The event will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite holding 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.”
The statement concluded: “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.”
The IOC had given itself a deadline of four weeks to consider delaying the Games, but there had been growing 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.
The Paralympics were due to start on August 25, but International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said the postponement was “the only logical option”.