The Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic, will be held from July 23 to Aug. 8 in 2021, the games’ organizing committee said Monday.
The 2020 Olympics had been scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9 in the Japanese capital but were postponed for the first time in history due to the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We originally agreed to postpone the games to the summer of 2021 at the latest, but we wanted to hold them in the summer,” Tokyo Games organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori told a press conference after agreeing on the new dates with the International Olympic Committee.
“We thought it will take time to hold qualifications and for the athletes to prepare for them,” Mori said, adding the games taking place during the summer vacation will allow many people, including spectators, to participate.
The new dates were decided from among several proposed time frames, including springtime, to avoid major conflicts with the international sports calendar and to minimize the logistical challenges faced by organizers.
A task force established by the Tokyo Games organizing committee charged with handling the delay opted for a similar time frame in 2021 in order to use existing plans for the games as much as possible.
Mori said Saturday the task force would likely settle on a summer start time and would reach a conclusion by the end of the following week.
Japan, which had seen relatively few cases of coronavirus infections until late March, was coming under mounting pressure from athletes and sports organizations around the world to reschedule the games due to escalating health concerns and the virus’ impact on training and Olympic qualification.
Last Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach agreed to postpone the games but keep the “Tokyo 2020” branding despite the year-long delay.
The Olympic flame will remain burning in Japan after arriving as scheduled from Greece on March 20 as cases of coronavirus infection spiked across the globe and calls for Olympic postponement intensified.
The Summer Games had never been postponed in its 31 editions since the first modern Olympics in 1896, although they were canceled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 due to war.
The Tokyo Olympics are set to be the largest in history, with over 10,000 athletes competing in 339 events across 33 sports should the current program remain the same.