After weeks of speculation the inevitable happened: the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed due to the worldwide coronavirus epidemic.

According to NHK News reports, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced to reporters on March 24 that he proposed a one-year postponement to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, who agreed 100%.

The announcement comes just two days after the IOC said they would form a task force to decide over the next four weeks whether to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games due to the rapid development of the coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic.

Abe spoke on the phone Tuesday night with Bach, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori and Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto.

According to NHK, Abe said the Games will be held no later than the summer of 2021, and he confirmed with Bach that there would be no cancellation of the Tokyo Games. The prime minister said as host country, a postponement of approximately one year will make it possible for athletes from around the world to play in the best conditions and to have a safe and secure tournament.

Japan’s hand might have been pushed after several countries, including the Canadian Olympic Committee, Australian Olympic Committee and the New Zealand Olympic Committee, announced within the last two days that they would not send athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Games.

According to the World Health Organization, Japan has 1,089 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with a total of nearly 335,000 confirmed cases in 189 countries worldwide. The announcement of the Olympics postponement comes on the same day that Japan banned entry from travelers of all European countries due to the rapid spread of infections.

Abe said given the proliferation of coronavirus cases, it is difficult to hold the Olympics this year. He said wants to hold the Games at a time when the world can show full proof that humanity has overcome the epidemic.

Feature photo: Ned Snowman /