Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee Tuesday to postpone the 2020 Olympics about a year due to the coronavirus.
The Olympics were originally scheduled to start on July 24.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the biggest sporting event in the world.
The International Olympic Committee postponed the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, officials announced Tuesday. The event was scheduled to start July 24 in Tokyo.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he and the head of the International Olympic Committee agreed on to delay the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo for about a year.
Abe was speaking to reporters after a phone call with IOC President Thomas Bach on postponing the Games amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The IOC has not yet officially postponed the Olympics, but an announcement is expected as early as Tuesday.
Tokyo had completed preparations when the virus started spreading across the world. Despite insisting for months the Games would go ahead as planned, Abe this week said a delay may be unavoidable if the events could not be held in a complete form.
The agreement comes after rising calls around the world to cancel or postpone the games. The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee withdrew the from the 2020 Summer Games over the weekend. Canadian officials also requested the IOC postpone the Olymptics until next year, they said in a statement.
“If the IOC’s decision means it becomes impossible to hold [the Olympics] in a ‘complete form,’ as I have previously said, then a decision may have to be made to postpone them,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Parliament on Monday, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
His comments were in response to Sunday’s statement from the IOC executive board that said canceling the event “would not solve any of the problems or help anybody. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda.”
On Tuesday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he spoke with the IOC and both sides agreed to delay the Olympics for about a year.
Tokyo last hosted the Olympics in 1964. The 1940 Summer Games, originally to be held in the capital of Japan, were canceled because of World War II.
The Bank of Japan estimated 33 million visitors were set to visit Tokyo in 2020 and “aggregate construction investment associated with the Olympic Games will amount to a total of 10 trillion yen.” (Or about $92 billion.)
Former BOJ board member Sayuri Shirai told CNBC a cancellation of the games would hurt businesses in Japan, calling the issue “serious.” She added the government “doesn’t want to talk about” the economic hit Japan would suffer if the games are cancelled.
Shirai said “postponement to next year” would be a far better outcome for Japan.