GABORONE, Botswana, March 2020/ — 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”.
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.”
Botswana’s Olympiad Nijel Amos (26) who is based in the United States’ (US) Eugene Oregon this week joined other renowned athletes’ reactions to the postponement of Tokyo 2020. Amos said the postponement will cause delay to his documentary as he was looking forward to including footage from this year’s games in it.
“We are in a moment where many of us are wondering whether to believe God’s Word or our eyes and emotions. Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear and worry less. Let us keep the faith and our prayers alive and do what we have to do to survive. ”
Another athlete and double Olympic super-heavyweight judo champion Teddy Riner said, “First, we have a more important fight to win” referring to stopping COVID-19. Riner, who lost his 10-year unbeaten record in Paris in February, turns 31 next month.
Britain’s 200m world champion Dina Asher Smith posted an upbeat message reflecting her country adopting strict measures to counter the spread of COVID-19 on Monday.
Two-time Olympic diving medallist Tom Daley admitted that his body would feel the effects of being “another year older”, but that the sacrifice was necessary to “help keep people safe”.
Rio 2016 200m silver medallist Dafne Schippers, said she was looking forward to competing in Tokyo this summer but “for now we have to look at the bigger picture and do whatever it takes to beat the corona virus”.
Asher Smith’s compatriot, 2019 world heptathlon champion Katerina Johnson-Thompson, said the decision was “heartbreaking news” but that “it’s for all the right reasons and the safety of everyone”.
Having qualified for Tokyo 2020 in Amman earlier this month, the postponement means India’s trailblazing boxer Mary Kom will be 38 when she appears at her second Games.
But the six-time world champion and London 2012 bronze medallist was full of praise for today’s announcement.
American kata karate exponent Sakura Kokumai was confirmed as having made Tokyo 2020 only this week at the end of the two-year qualification period.
She says she can wait another year, and you can hear her talk about her love of karate and how the COVID-19 outbreak saw her go from “travelling non-stop for two years living out of a suitcase to kind of being forced to being in one place” on the Olympic Channel Podcast available from Wednesday.