World Rugby has today welcomed the ‘prudent and necessary’ decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to postpone this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Following a conference call on Tuesday morning, the IOC President, Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, concluded that the 2020 Games, scheduled to begin on July 24th, must be rescheduled to safeguard the health of the athletes in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said that the Games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.”
This summer’s Games was due to be Rugby Sevens’ second appearance at the Olympics, with the Ireland Men’s Sevens building towards their final shot of qualification at June’s Olympic Repechage tournament. World Rugby say this event remains ‘under review’ as the sport’s governing body awaits further information on the staging of the 2020 Games.
“The health and safety of the athletes, fans, and everyone involved is our shared priority and responsibility and we believe the right decision has been taken in these very difficult and unprecedented circumstances,” a World Rugby statement read.
We look forward to working closely together in a spirit of partnership with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and all other stakeholders towards the rescheduling of the Games and our belief from the outstanding Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, is that the hosts will come out of this adversity stronger and more committed than ever before to deliver an exceptional Games.
Anthony Eddy‘s Ireland have already seen their maiden season on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the upcoming legs in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris postponed until later in the year.
After six rounds of the 2019/20 campaign, Ireland Men sit 10th in the overall World Series standings following their recent sixth and 13th place finishes in Los Angeles and Vancouver.
The Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI), meanwhile, also welcomed the decision to postpone the Games to 2021 considering the current global crisis.
“This is the right call given the times that we are in,” OFI CEO, Peter Sherrard, commented. “Nonetheless we recognise it was a difficult call for Japan to make, and we are looking forward to working with the IOC and countries all over the world to make Tokyo 2021 a poignant moment for the whole world once these difficult times are over.”