The International Olympic Committee has decided to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games because of the coronavirus pandemic, IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today on Monday.
Pound told Reuters a one-year postponement looked like the best solution.
The Games were set to begin in July.
The Olympics have never before been delayed, though they were canceled altogether three times during World Wars One and Two.
Pressure had been mounting as country after country called on the IOC to delay the games due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Canada became the first country to boycott followed by Australia… The U.K., France and Switzerland - among others - didn’t officially pull out but expressed concerns about the competition going on as scheduled.
Even the World Health Organization chimed in on Monday for the first time, saying it was very confident the IOC and host country Japan “would not proceed with any Games if it would be dangerous to athletes and spectators.” Athletic organizations fear the Games would be a breeding ground for the pandemic, which could then spread as athletes, fans and the media head back to their home countries – possibly causing an even bigger outbreak of the pandemic.
The postponement of the multi-billion dollar event would have major financial repercussions for Japan, the IOC, athletes, sponsors, broadcasters and other stakeholders who have already invested heavily in the Games.
And the delay would be a blow to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has staked considerable political capital on delivering the Games as planned.