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24/03/2020 17:50
IOC and Japan agree to postpone Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Lausanne, Switzerland, March 24, 2020. The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, held a conference call this morning to discuss the constantly changing environment with regard to COVID-19 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. President Bach and Prime Minister Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games.

In a very friendly and constructive meeting, the two leaders praised the work of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and noted the great progress made in Japan to fight against COVID-19.

The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), 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, 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 leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

As for Volleyball, four European teams per gender were due to contest the competition in the Japanese capital later this summer. These are France, Italy, Poland and Russia (men) and Italy, Russia, Serbia and Turkey (women). Moreover, teams from Italy, Latvia and Spain had secured their participation in the Beach Volleyball competition through last year’s world qualifier held in China.

“Finally, it is official! They have postponed the Olympics to next year, it will be Tokyo 2021!” posted Volleyball superstar Osmany Juantorena on his Instagram account. “It is the right choice under the current circumstances. People’s health is the most important thing at this stage and this takes priority over any political and economic interests. This the best choice for everyone! One year goes by very quickly and we will make sure that we are well ready to dream about making the podium again! I very much hope to be there because this would be the last Olympics for me.”

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