The Tokyo Olympics will now officially start on July 23, 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) arrived at this decision after its president, Thomas Bach, got on a conference call with international sports federations.

The IOC put out a statement that justified rescheduling the games to next July, claiming it would help minimise the drastic disruptions in the international sporting calendar by giving everyone enough time to deal, and adjust with the changes. “These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organisation of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read.

“The new dates, exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020 also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum. Additionally, they will provide sufficient time to finish the qualification process. The same heat mitigation measures as planned for 2020 will be implemented.”

Bach also assured that the IOC and the Tokyo organisers would “master this unprecedented challenge”. “Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel,” he added.

Tokyo organisers confirmed that tickets for this year’s Games would still be deemed valid next year, but a full refund would be given to anyone who could no longer make it to the Games due to new dates.