President Donald Trump is applauding Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after it was confirmed that Tokyo's Summer 2020 Olympics would be postponed until 2021. In a tweet Wednesday morning, the president addressed the latest development to rock the global world of sports, praising the move as a "wise" one as the world continues its efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
After weeks of speculation and rumors that the Olympics would be pushed back amid growing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, Abe told reporters Tuesday that he and the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, had agreed to postpone the summer games. Initially scheduled to kick off on July 24, the Summer Olympics will now be pushed back to summer 2021, with an exact date not yet announced.
Congratulations to Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and the IOC, on their very wise decision to present the Olympics in 2021. It will be a great success, and I look forward to being there!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2020
"We agreed that a postponement would be the best way to ensure that the athletes are in peak condition when they compete and to guarantee the safety of the spectators," Abe said, according to The Guardian.
In a joint statement released by the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee shortly after, it was said that the Summer Olympics "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."
It was also confirmed that the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will continue to be called the "Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020" when they are held next year and that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan "as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times."
Prior to that Tuesday announcement, the president had spoken out about the possibility of postponing the games, voicing his support for that option.
"Maybe they postpone it for a year," Trump said. "Maybe that's not possible. I guess it's never happened with the Olympics."
"If you cancel it, do it a year later," he added. "That's a better alternative rather than having it with no crowd and having empty stadiums all over the place."
The decision to postpone the games is an unprecedented move. Dating back to 1896, the modern Olympics have only been canceled during times of war, according to the Associated Press.
As of Wednesday morning, a Johns Hopkins database reported more than 440,000 confirmed coronavirus cases globally, with fatalities surpassing 19,500.