Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has proposed a one-year postponement for the Tokyo Olympics during talks with IOC president, Thomas Bach.
Abe said Japan and the International Olympic Committee came to an agreement during a phone call with the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, following growing calls for the games to be delayed or canceled because of the concerns around coronavirus pandemic.
The Japanese leader said they have agreed that the games would not be cancelled and will be held by the summer of 2021, his office said on Twitter.
He added that he hoped to reschedule the Olympics as a proof of human victory over the coronavirus pandemic.
Until a few days ago, Japan had insisted there were no plans to delay the Games—but the decision to postpone became inevitable when teams from around the world announced they would not be traveling to Tokyo in July. No Olympics has ever been rescheduled before, and the only cancellations have happened in wartime.
The postponement will come as a blow to the host country, which has spent more than than $12bn on the event, while huge sums are also at stake for sponsors and broadcasters. Goldman Sachs estimated this month that Japan would lose $4.5bn (550bn yen) in inbound and domestic consumption in 2020 if the Olympics did not take place as planned.
The Japanese public had already accepted the inevitable. According to a Kyodo news poll last week, almost 70% of respondents said they did not expect the Games to go ahead this summer.
The Olympics is the biggest event yet to be affected by the growing global pandemic. The Olympics was set to run from July 24 through Aug. 9, and the Paralympics from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.