Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is in agreement with his proposal that the 2020 Summer Olympics should be postponed one year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to ESPN.com, Abe said the following about his conversations with Bach:
"I proposed to Mr Bach to postpone the event for a year. He 100 percent agrees with me, and the latest by summer 2021, the Olympics will be held. Symbolize victory over the virus. We will like to fulfill our responsibility.
"We have to think about the current outbreak of the coronavirus. Holding the Olympics in 2020 is difficult. We talked about a one-year postponed, and we agreed on the holding of the event in 2021. We are looking to coordinate venues. IOC meeting will be held soon."
The 2020 Summer Games had been scheduled to take place in Tokyo from July 24 through Aug. 9.
In a joint statement by the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, it was announced Tuesday that Abe and Bach have agreed to reschedule the 2020 Summer Olympics for "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."
It was also announced that they will still be referred to as the 2020 Olympics regardless of when they are held:
"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. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020."
Before any official announcements were made, IOC member Dick Pound told Christine Brennan of USA Today on Monday that the Summer Games would be postponed.
The decision comes after many athletes and governing bodies across the world expressed concern for their health and safety because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Last week, USA Swimming and USA Track and Field called for the IOC to postpone the Olympics in order to protect the participating athletes.
Per CNN, there are nearly 333,000 known cases of coronavirus worldwide and over 14,500 people have died as a result. That includes nearly 1,100 reported cases and 41 deaths in Japan.
Once the 2020 Olympics are officially postponed, it will mark the first time that the Olympics have not proceeded as scheduled since the 1940 and 1944 Games were canceled because of World War II.