The global competition is the biggest sporting event to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
(NBC) – The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday.
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.
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.
The IOC has dealt with potential health threats in the recent past, but none so serious that they affected the scheduled timeline.
There were concerns about the bird flu ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Zika during the 2016 Rio Olympics and swine flu before the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
In February, Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee, said a decision about the fate of the Tokyo Olympics would likely need to be made by the end of May. He said cancellation might be an option but encouraged athletes to keep training.
The Olympic flame arrived in Japan on March 20 for a journey that would have led to the opening ceremony. At the time, IOC President Thomas Bach said it would be irresponsible to set a deadline for deciding on the status of the games.