TOKYO 202?

The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun - - Front Page -

Sun sets on hopes of hold­ing Games this sum­mer, as IOC an­nounces post­pone­ment

The In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee agreed March 24 at a spe­cial board of di­rec­tors meet­ing that the Tokyo Olympics and Par­a­lympics will be post­poned by about one year due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Prior to the de­ci­sion, Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe held tele­phone talks with IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach and pro­posed that the Games be de­layed. Bach ac­cepted his pro­posal to hold the event in the sum­mer of 2021 at the lat­est.

The Tokyo Olympics were orig­i­nally sched­uled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9 and the Par­a­lympics from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6. It is the first time in the his­tory of the Games that they have been pushed back.

The tele­phone talks were held at the re­quest of the Ja­panese govern­ment and took place at the prime min­is­ter’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence for about 45 min­utes from 8 p.m. on March 24. The tele­con­fer­ence was also at­tended by Yoshiro Mori, pres­i­dent of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee; Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike; Chief Cabi­net Secretary Yoshi­hide Suga; and min­is­ter for the Tokyo Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games Seiko Hashimoto, among oth­ers.

“We’ve con­firmed there is no can­cel­la­tion,” Abe told re­porters af­ter the talks.

“I pro­posed that we con­sider options mainly to de­lay the Games for about a year. This is to al­low ath­letes from across the globe to per­form in peak con­di­tion and to make the event safe and se­cure for spec­ta­tors,” Abe added.

Giv­ing rea­sons for the oneyear post­pone­ment, he said, “Given the cur­rent spread of in­fec­tions, it will be dif­fi­cult [to con­tain the virus] by the end of this year.”

Abe said Bach agreed with his sug­ges­tion fully.

Re­gard­ing a new sched­ule for the Games, Hashimoto said, “I thought it could be held around sum­mer [next year].”

“It is sig­nif­i­cant for the ath­letes that we have a con­crete tar­get for the sum­mer of 2021. Tokyo has made nu­mer­ous prepa­ra­tions. We will keep work­ing with the cen­tral govern­ment and the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee to pre­pare for the new goal,” Koike said.

On the mat­ter of the bur­den of ad­di­tional ex­pen­di­tures aris­ing from the post­pone­ment, Koike said: “A close ex­am­i­na­tion is nec­es­sary. I think the amount each of us would shoul­der will be dis­cussed with the cen­tral govern­ment.”

Bach ex­plained at the spe­cial IOC board of di­rec­tors meet­ing that he had agreed with Abe to push the event back by about a year. The IOC had pre­vi­ously said it would reach a de­ci­sion within four weeks.

Abe held tele­phone talks with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on March 25 about the post­pone­ment of the Tokyo Olympics and Par­a­lympics.

The two lead­ers agreed to con­tinue work­ing to­gether to de­velop drugs and pre­vent the spread of the new coro­n­avirus, the cause of the post­pone­ment. The two lead­ers con­firmed that they would share in­for­ma­tion on the de­vel­op­ment of drugs and vac­cines.

They also con­firmed mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion over is­sues re­lated to North Korea, which has re­cently launched a series of short-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

Ja­pan and the United States “con­firmed close co­op­er­a­tion in or­der to hold the Tokyo Games in per­fect con­di­tion as a sym­bol of over­com­ing the coro­n­avirus infectious dis­ease,” Chief Cabi­net Secretary Yoshi­hide Suga told re­porters on March 25.

Yomi­uri Shim­bun pho­tos

A man walks in front of a sign dis­play­ing the date the Olympics were sched­uled to start, in Tokyo’s Shin­juku dis­trict on March 25. Be­low: Peo­ple walk past an Olympic count­down dis­play in front of Tokyo Sta­tion on March 24.

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