The International Olympic Committee officially postponed the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo until the summer of 2021 at the latest as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The IOC and the 2020 Tokyo Organizing Committee released a joint statementTuesday addressing the decision:
"In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also announced Tuesday he and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach have reached an agreement to delay the Tokyo Games, which had been scheduled to be held from July 24 through Aug. 9, according to ESPN.com.
Bach wrote a letter March 22 that said officials were discussing scenarios surrounding the Games and that postponement was among the options. Bach expected a final decision within four weeks.
Olympic associations throughout the world effectively expedited the process.
Shortly after Bach's statement, Canada announced its athletes wouldn't take part in the Olympics if they started on their originally scheduled date. Likewise, the Australian Olympic Committee told its athletes to prepare for a Summer Olympics in 2021.
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee conducted a survey of U.S. Olympic hopefuls and determined delaying the quadrennial showcase was the only step available:
"Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, 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, and we encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors."
IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today's Christine Brennan the Olympics were going to be shelved until a later date, which made the official decree all but inevitable.
This is the first time the Olympics have been significantly disrupted since 1944, when World War II forced the cancellation of the Summer and Winter Games.
Many will concur with Team USA's sentiment that it was the obvious choice given the present circumstances.
Health officials raised concerns the Olympics could increase the spread of COVID-19 as people from so many different countries converged in Tokyo. According to CNN, more than 332,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide.
Even if cases began to decline by July, the pandemic has already caused significant disruptions for athletes who were planning to compete.
A number of major sports leagues have suspended play, and local governments have temporarily shuttered public facilities such as gyms and swimming pools. Those in the United States can't work out at either of the official Olympic training centers since they were both closed indefinitely.
Expecting athletes to compete at a high level in Tokyo was unrealistic.
Pushing the Olympics back to a later date presents a number of logistical hurdles for both Tokyo and the federations that still need to hold Olympic qualifiers. The alternative was holding an event that posed a risk to public health and was potentially absent a number of stars.