The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until next year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The Olympics was due to be held in Japan from July 24 to August 9, while the Paralympics was set to run from August 25 to September 6, but both have now been rescheduled for next year.

“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,” the IOC said in a statement.

“Utter relief. Excitement. Uncertainty. We’re in unprecedented times,” Canadian wrestler Erica Wiebe told CBC Sports. On March 14, she clinched her second Olympic at the Pan American qualifying event in Ottawa. “We’ll be more ready than ever in 2021 and wearing the Maple Leaf with more pride than I thought was possible.”

The IOC had given itself a deadline of four weeks to consider delaying the Games but there had been mounting pressure from a host of Olympic committees and athletes demanding a quicker decision.

The postponement is the first in the Olympics’ 124-year history, having only ever previously been cancelled in wartime.

The IOC and Tokyo organizers said they hope the decision to postpone will help the world heal from the pandemic.

The Olympic flame will remain in Japan, and is being stored and displayed in Fukushima.

The Tokyo 2020/IOC statement continued: “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.”

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