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Huge numbers of sporting events have been canceled or postponed [cbsnews.com] due to the coronavirus [cbsnews.com] pandemic. And now the granddaddy of global sporting events, the Olympic Games [cnet.com], originally set for this summer in Tokyo, will join them.
The office of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tweeted on Tuesday that following conversations with the International Olympic Committee, the Tokyo Olympics will now take place [twitter.com] in 2021.
"After his telephone talks with IOC President Bach, PM Abe spoke to the press and explained that the two have agreed that the Tokyo Olympic Games would not be cancelled, and the games will be held by the summer of 2021," said the tweet.
In a statement on Tuesday, the IOC said the Games will be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 [olympic.org], but no later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of athletes and everyone involved in the Olympics. The sporting event will continue to be called Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
"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," the committee said in a statement. "Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan."
[...]Numerous teams had already said that they wouldn't compete if the 2020 Olympics took place as planned. Late Monday, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee called on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Games, citing the results of a survey [teamusa.org] sent to 4,000 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls.
"We regret that there is no outcome that can solve all the concerns we face," USOPC chair Susanne Lyons and USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a joint statement. Even if global health conditions were to change by late summer, the group said that "the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can't be overcome in a satisfactory manner. To that end, it's more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising."
On Sunday, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee announced [olympic.ca] that their teams wouldn't head to Tokyo and urged that competition be postponed for one year. The Australian Olympic Committee's executive board also unanimously agreed [olympics.com.au] not to send a team and encouraged athletes to instead prepare for a summer 2021 event.
And on Friday, USA Swimming, the national governing body for competitive swimming, sent a letter [cbssports.com] to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee urging the group to postpone the Summer Games to 2021.
[...]The next Olympics after Tokyo are the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, followed by the 2024 Paris Summer Games, and then the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina, Italy.
All they needed to do for the races was make sure each lane was 2 meters wide! But seriously, it would be impracticable — if not outright impossible — to keep a safe physical distance from all other athletes when practicing, too.