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Olympics: IOC approves postponement of Tokyo Olympics due to virus

The Olympic Rings are displayed at the entrance of the IOC, International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 24, 2020. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (Kyodo) -- International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Tuesday that the IOC's board has approved the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Bach said the IOC's executive board officially accepted the decision after he agreed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to push back the games for about one year in order to safeguard the health and safety of athletes.

    Following a teleconference with Bach, Abe said the games would not be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic but efforts would be made toward a roughly one-year postponement.

    The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee and the IOC's coordination commission will discuss the new schedule regarding the games.

    "We all at the IOC and on the phone call with Prime Minister Abe are aware of the seriousness of the global pandemic and what it is doing to people's lives, and we are very worried about the latest developments and figures we got in the last couple of days," Bach said.

    He revealed that comments by World Health Organization Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus that the pandemic is "accelerating" led to the decision to postpone the games, originally scheduled to open on July 24.

    Bach said he is going forward with his plan to visit Japan in May, adding he plans to show his full commitment toward the success of the games and his appreciation to the citizens for their preparation.

    The Tokyo Paralympics, originally scheduled to be held between Aug. 25 and Sept. 6, will also be rescheduled, the International Paralympic Committee said.

    "Postponing the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak is absolutely the right thing to do," IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement.

    "The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sport event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible."

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