Due to the coronavirus outbreak, The International Olympic Committee was left with no choice but to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics for the first time in history. The Olympic Games will instead begin on July 23, 2021 and run until August 8 – almost exactly one year later than the dates initially planned for 2020.
The Paralympic Games will take place between August 24 and September 5, 2021 (initially 25 August to 6 September 2020).
Leaders of the key parties involved as well as IOC President Thomas Bach, Tokyo 2020 President Mori Yoshirō, Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko, Olympic and Paralympic Minister Hashimoto Seiko all took part in a conference call on Monday to confirm the new dates.
The decision was based on three main considerations: to protect the health of everyone involved along with supporting the containment of the COVID-19 virus; to safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport; and to minimise disruption to the international sports calendar.
The new dates will hopefully give health authorities and organisers time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, they will provide sufficient time to finish the qualification process which will involve the same heat mitigation measures as planned for 2020. In turn, the rescheduled Olympics will still be referred to as Tokyo 2020 despite taking place in 2021.
“With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.
“Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel.”
International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons commented: “The new dates provide certainty for the athletes, reassurance for the stakeholders and something to look forward to for the whole world. When the Paralympic Games do take place in Tokyo next year, they will be an extra-special display of humanity uniting as one, a global celebration of human resilience and a sensational showcase of sport.”
“Now have concrete new dates to aim for, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will commit all its resources, and work closely with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the national government and other stakeholders to fully prepare for the delivery of Games that are safe and secure,” Governor Koike Yuriko added.