Tokyo Games delayed to 2021
TOKYO: The Tokyo Olympics were postponed today into 2021, the first such delay in the Games’ 124-year modern history, as the coronavirus crisis wrecked the last international sporting showpiece still standing this year.
Though a huge blow to Japan, the decision was a relief to thousands of athletes fretting over how to train as the world headed into lockdown over the disease that has claimed more than 16,500 lives.
Pressure had been building on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its powerful president Thomas Bach, with some athletes and sporting bodies critical of the time taken to make an inevitable decision.
After a call with Bach, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the July 24 – Aug 9 competition would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021 at the latest as proof of victory over the virus.
“We asked President Bach to consider postponement of about one year to make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition,“ Abe said.
“President Bach said he is in agreement 100%.”
The IOC confirmed that.
Athletes were disappointed but broadly endorsed the delay, given health risks and disruption to their training as gyms, stadia and swimming pools shut down around the world.
US skateboarder and gold medal hopeful Nyjah Huston was frustrated, though, especially given his sport was scheduled to make its debut at the Tokyo.
“When skating finally makes it in the Olympics then it gets postponed,“ the 25-year-old wrote on Instagram, after a delay had begun to look inevitable. “I was feelin (sic) ready too … now I’m going to have to be a year older for this!”
Despite their disappointment, not to mention the logistical headaches and financial losses coming, a poll showed about 70% of Japanese agreed with a delay.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters the delayed Games would still be branded “Tokyo 2020”.
It was not yet clear whether the 57 percent of athletes who had already secured spots in Tokyo would need to qualify again for the re-arranged Olympics.
The torch relay was being cancelled. – Reuters