The Tokyo 2020 Olympic games have been postponed - here's when they will happen, and what to do if you had tickets

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 1:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 2:10 pm

After weeks of debate as to whether the biggest sporting event of the summer should be cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been officially postponed.

Strong calls had been made for Japan to appeal to the International Olympic Committee to postpone the event as similar sporting ventures announced their own cancellations and countries pulled their athletes from the games.

At one time, it looked as though the event could still go ahead, and there were even rumours of a "scaled back" version of the games.

But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had agreed to the delay.

When will the Tokyo Olympics be held?

"I proposed to postpone for about a year and [IOC] president Thomas Bach responded with 100% agreement," Abe said.

The 2020 Olympics were set to run from 24 July to 9 August.

It marks the first time the Olympic Games has been postponed. The 1916 and 1944 games were cancelled due to World War I and II respectively, but the games have never been pushed back.

The current plan is told the games in the summer of 2021, though many are noting the logistical challenges of this most unprecedented of moves; a year delay could prove to be too short.

What should I do if I had tickets?

It's unlikely that many readers in the UK would have had tickets for Tokyo 2020.

Tickets were only sold through shops in Japan, and by mail order to Japanese addresses through the internet.

International guests needed to visit Japan during the sales period or arrange for tickets through a third party, such as a travel agent.

But there will be some games fans who were planning to make the trip over to Japan for a fortnight of sports.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it's still not clear just what situation we'll be in by the time July rolls around.

Travel restrictions could still be in place, and the games are definitely not happening this year, so you'll want to seek out a refund.

Contact your ticket seller to arrange this.

How much will the postponement cost?

Officials were unwilling to delay or cancel the games likely because of the huge costs doing so would incur.

The exact amount is unclear, but it is reasonable to assume that the financial implications of the move will amount to a hefty figure when you consider the cost of putting them on in the first place.

The Olympic Stadium alone is said to be costing Japanese government £870 million at most recent estimates, while the overall cost of the Olympiad is just short of £10 billion.

When you consider that many venues for the Olympics are temporary and are likely already under construction, maintaining them or deconstructing and rebuilding them will incur massive further cost.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread.

But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised.

Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat.

It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly.

The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

As of Monday 23 March the prime minister has put the UK into lockdown and instructed all citizens to stay at home.

People can only leave their homes to exercise once a day, go shopping for food and medication, travel for medical needs or to care for a vulnerable person, and travel to work only if essential.

Police will be able to enforce these restrictions.

All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, as will playgrounds, places of worship and libraries.

Large events or gatherings of more than two people cannot go ahead, including weddings and celebrations.

Funerals can only be attended by immediate family.

Children of separated parents can go between both parents' homes.

Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.

The government has now instructed bars, restaurants, theatres and non-essential businesses to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis.

Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.

The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate.

People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.

For more information on government advice, please check their website.

Should I avoid public places?

You should now avoid public places and any non-essential travel.

Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS