Tokyo: Amid the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Japan and International Olympic Committee (IOC) have agreed to postpone the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

The summer Olympics were to be held from July 24 to August 9. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Games have been delayed. The official confirmation came on Tuesday (March 24) after Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke to IOC president Thomas Bach.

Also read: 'Tokyo Olympics cancellation not on agenda'

“I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded with 100% agreement,” Abe told reporters.

Also read: Indian hockey teams training in 'safe environment' for Olympics

Japan PM office’s official Twitter handle wrote, “After his telephone talks with IOC President Bach, PM Abe spoke to the press and explained that the two have agreed that the Tokyo Olympic Games would not be cancelled, and the games will be held by the summer of 2021.”

In a joint statement, IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, said, "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.

"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. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020."

Earlier, in a letter to athletes, Bach had written that human lives take precedence over everything.

He wrote, “In this unprecedented crisis we are all united. Like you, we are very much concerned about what the COVID-19 pandemic is doing to people’s lives. Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games. The IOC wants to be part of the solution. Therefore we have made it our leading principle to safeguard the health of everyone involved, and to contribute to containing the virus. I would like to assure you that we will adhere to this in all our decisions concerning the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“The road to Tokyo is very different for each of you, coming from 206 NOCs. Many of you cannot prepare and train in the way you are used to, or even not at all because of the anti-COVID-19 measures in your country. Many of you are in training and are looking forward to making your Olympic dream come true. Many of you are already qualified for the Games; a significant number are not.”

On Monday (March 23), Canada became the first country to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus.