The Tokyo Olympics are officially postponed until next year.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed an agreement has been reached with the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Games by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Olympic organisers have finally seen sense as Canada and Australia withdrew from competing, many countries closed their borders and were placed in lockdown, and pressure increased from the respective athlete communities to postpone the Games.

On Wednesday (NZT) Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a conference call with IOC president Thomas Bach and Organising Committee president Yoshiro Mori.

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It was then confirmed the Japanese government were preparing to postpone their second Olympic Games until 2021 in the hope a full Olympics can be staged next year.
Issuing a statement, Prime Minister Abe said: "I proposed to Mr Bach that we postpone the Games for a year. He 100 per cent agrees with me.

"This will make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and will make the event a safe and secure one for spectators."

A one-year delay will also apply to the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

A joint-statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee confirmed: "In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the World Health Organisation 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."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

The New Zealand Olympic Committee released a statement in the wake of the announcement, supporting the decision that was reached.

Common sense has finally prevailed, and the the Olympics are off.

"New Zealand athletes were surveyed yesterday and told us they were ready to support this extremely tough decision," NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith said. "We know they are adaptable and resilient, and they understand that this decision is necessary to ensure a fair field of play and protect the health of both athletes and the wider global.

"We will immediately contact and offer support to athletes. We will also work through plans with our performance partners HPSNZ and the New Zealand sporting bodies."

"We acknowledge this has been a very difficult situation for both the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and we thank them for listening to our athletes and athletes worldwide to provide some certainty. We are committed to playing our role in making 'Tokyo 2020' next year a success."

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The announcement comes after senior IOC member Dick Pound revealed yesterday the Tokyo Olympics would be postponed.

Despite the scheduled start date of July 24 etching closer and uncertainty increasing each day, the IOC said on Monday it would take up to four weeks to make a final decision.

The postponement is a blow to Japan. Reports suggest the country has spent more than $12 billion on the Games, while huge sums are also at stake for sponsors and broadcasters.

Re-organising the games for 2021 is not without its legal challenges.

The IOC and Japanese authorities will need to come to a swift agreement as to who should shoulder the additional costs arising from the postponement. This may run into the hundreds of millions.

If agreement is not reached on who will pick up the bill, it may ultimately need to be resolved by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Only three Olympics have been cancelled in history; the 1916 Games in Berlin while both Tokyo 1940 and London 1944 were abandoned due to war.

The Olympic flame will stay in Japan "as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times".