The Games will continue to be called "Tokyo 2020," even as they are moved to 2021

By Claudia Harmata
March 24, 2020 10:02 AM

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will now be held in 2021.

On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach announced in a joint statement that the Summer Games would be postponed one year amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“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,” a statement released by the IOC reads.

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Abe reportedly held a conference call with Bach and other members of the organizing committee on Tuesday to propose the one-year postponement, just one day after IOC member Dick Pound confirmed the news that the Summer Olympics would not be held as originally scheduled.

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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Koji Sasahara/AP/Shutterstock

The Prime Minister also confirmed the news in a press conference after the call, saying that he and Bach “agreed 100 percent” that the games should be held in 2021, according to The Washington Post.

“In light of the current conditions and for all the athletes, we made a proposal of a postponement of about a year, to hold them securely and safely,” Abe said Tuesday.

On Monday, Pound had told USA Today that, “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

At the time, a decision had not been made as to when the games would be held, but Pound had also suggested 2021.

“It will come in stages,” Pound said. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

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Over the weekend, the IOC said in a press release that it would “step-up its scenario planning” relating to the games, after Australia and Canada both announced they would not send athletes to the games unless they were postponed.

The delay is unprecedented, marking only the fourth time in modern Olympic history that the Games have been disrupted.

“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,” the IOC’s Tuesday statement read.

According to the release, the Olympic flame will remain in Japan during the delay. The Summer Games will also continue to be called “Tokyo 2020,” even as they are moved to 2021.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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