March 24, 2020 / 12:29 PM / 5 months ago

Japan PM Abe: Agreed with IOC's Bach on idea of delaying Olympics one year

FILE PHOTO : International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach walks with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the 'One Year to Go' ceremony celebrating one year out from the start of the summer games at Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo, Japan July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he and the head of the International Olympic Committee agreed on the idea of delaying the Tokyo Olympics by about one year.

Abe was speaking to reporters after a phone call with IOC President Thomas Bach on postponing the Games amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

“We asked President Bach to consider postponement of about one year to make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and to make the event a safe and secure one for spectators,” Abe said. “President Bach said he is in agreement 100 percent.”

Tokyo had completed preparations when the virus started spreading across the world. Despite insisting for months the Games would go ahead as planned, Abe this week said a delay may be unavoidable if the events could not be held in a complete form.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike separately told reporters the Games, to be convened by summer of 2021, would still be branded “Tokyo 2020”.

Reporting by Sakura Murakami and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by David Dolan

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