Saturday,  Mar 28, 2020,16:48 (GMT+7) 0 0
Tokyo Games moved to 2021 as 'light at end of pandemic tunnel'
The Saigon Times
Wednesday,  Mar 25, 2020,09:23 (GMT+7)

Tokyo Games moved to 2021 as 'light at end of pandemic tunnel'

The Saigon Times

A 3D printed Olympics logo is seen in front of displayed "Tokyo 2021" words in this illustration taken March 24, 2020 - PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO/ATHENS (REUTERS) - The Tokyo Olympics were postponed on Tuesday to 2021, the first such delay in the Games’ 124-year modern history, as the coronavirus crisis wrecked the world’s last sporting showpiece still standing this year.

Though a huge blow to Japan, which has invested US$12 billion in the run-up, the decision was a relief to thousands of athletes fretting over training with the world heading into lockdown to fight a disease that has killed over 16,500 people.

Pressure had been building on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president, Thomas Bach, with some athletes and sporting bodies angry that a seemingly inevitable decision had taken so long.

After a call between Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, both said the July 24-August 9 Games would move to the summer of 2021 at the latest in a hoped-for celebration of triumph over the pandemic.

The Olympic flame, already lit at Olympia in Greece and taken to Japan for a now-cancelled torch relay, would stay in the host nation as a symbol of hope.

“Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is,” Bach said. “This Olympic flame will be the light at the end of this tunnel.”

Though it was the first Olympics postponement, the Games were cancelled outright three times during the last century’s two world wars. Cold War boycotts also disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Olympics in 1980 and 1984.

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