Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talks to journalists in front of the prime minister's residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 24,…
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talks to journalists in front of the prime minister's residence in Tokyo, March 24, 2020.

The 2020 Olympics have been delayed for about a year after an agreement was reached between Japan and the International Olympic Committee. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the delay of the 2020 Olympics to no later than the summer of 2021 after holding talks by telephone  Tuesday  with Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. The games were originally scheduled to begin on July 24.    

Two men chat behind the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium in Tokyo, March 24, 2020.

Abe said Tuesday the postponement came after months of escalating pressure from some participating countries and athletes.  

The IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said in a joint statement the delay was necessary to “safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved on the Olympic Games and the international community.”   

The delay moved closer to reality on Sunday when the  Canadian  Olympic  Committee said it was withdrawing from the games, and Australia’s committee members informed its athletes they could not adequately train for the summer games after coronavirus control restrictions were imposed. 

Medical workers in protective suits check a document as they treat patients suffering with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit at the Casalpalocco hospital in Rome, March 24, 2020.

Italy, meanwhile, which has suffered by far the deadliest consequences of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reported Tuesday a third consecutive day in which its daily deaths and new infections declined.        

The 601 deaths recorded Monday are still a staggering figure, but one that is a vast improvement from nearly 800 on Saturday.        

Italy has reported more than 6,000 deaths and has the second highest overall number of cases.  Officials put the entire country on lockdown two weeks ago in hopes of stopping the spread of the virus that has reached nearly every country on the planet.        

South Korea, which once held the position of being one of the hardest-hit nations, showed its own continued progress, reporting Tuesday a daily rise in new cases of 76.  That was its 13th consecutive day below 100.        

Meanwhile China continues to report its own improvements with just four locally transmitted cases in its latest figures Tuesday.     

People wearing protective masks take pictures of cherry blossoms at a park, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, March 23, 2020.

Officials said healthy people in Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, will be able to leave the province after two months of lockdown.  The provincial capital, Wuhan, will see the same relief in early April.       

But worries persist about a comeback for the virus in China, the place it was first detected in late December, due to cases among people who arrive from elsewhere in the world.  China reported 74 such imported cases Tuesday.        

Those fears have prompted governments all over the world to institute travel restrictions.        

Tourists from Mexico wearing masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, wait for their flight home, at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, March 23, 2020.

Beginning Tuesday, Cuba is barring all tourists from entering the   country.  Those already there will go into mandatory quarantine, while Cuban citizens will not be able to leave the island.   

South African president  Cyril  Ramaphosa  announced a three-week, nationwide lockdown will begin Thursday as the country’s case count rose to 554.       

In the United States, about one-third of the population is under stay-at-home orders issued by state governors.  The latest was the governor of Hawaii telling people to not go out except for essential trips, while the governor of the western state of Washington tightened an existing order to include closing non-essential businesses.        

President Donald Trump gestures as he asks a question to Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, March 23, 2020, in Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump also signed an executive order Monday  which  criminalizes the stockpiling of personal protective equipment that medical personnel need to stay safe while treating coronavirus patients.        

With the national and global response to the outbreak taking an economic toll, U.S. political leaders met late into Monday night trying to finalize an agreement on a massive economic rescue package.  They expressed confidence they can reach a deal on Tuesday.   

  

 

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