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The 2020 Olympics, which were scheduled to begin July 24 in Tokyo, have been postponed to a date “no later than summer 2021” due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee announced the decision Tuesday amid mounting pressure from athletes and various stakeholders. “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 IOC said in a statement. This is the first time an Olympic Games has been postponed. Several have been canceled due to war (1916, 1940, 1944).

With the world struggling to contain COVID-19, the disease that has shut down many aspects of public life across the globe, it had become clear to experts that staging the Games this summer would be “utterly irresponsible.” Most major sports leagues in the United States and Europe have been suspended indefinitely for more than a week.

The IOC, despite the outbreak, had publicly and privately maintained confidence that the 2020 Games would be unaffected. On March 3, IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters: “We’ve made a decision. And the decision is that the Games go ahead.” On March 17, the IOC said it remained “fully committed” to holding the Games in 2020.

But its tone changed shortly thereafter as resistance grew. Athletes struggled to find places to train. Their qualifying events were disrupted. Some criticized the IOC for its lack of worry and care. Prominent individuals and sport federations began to call for postponement. On Sunday, hours after the IOC finally acknowledged the mere possibility of postponement, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it would not send athletes to the Games if they were held as scheduled in 2020. On Monday, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee urged organizers to postpone. Read more

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