KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The International Olympic Committee and Japanese Olympics organisers have confirmed that the postponed Games will still be known as Tokyo 2020.

That will come as a massive relief to sponsors which had already produced millions of dollars worth of branded merchandise. The example is expected to be followed by other sports forced by the coronavirus crisis to postpone their events until next year.

This includes football’s European Championship finals.

The Olympic name freeze was announced by IOC president Thomas Bach after a conference call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A statement said: “The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.

“Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

Playing games with names is nothing new. The 1956 Olympic Games were staged in Melbourne, Australia, but the equestrian events were held in Sweden because of quarantine restrictions.

The conference call also involved Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori, Olympic Minister Seko Hashimoto, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, IOC coordinating chair John Coates, director-general Christophe De Kepper and the Games executive director, Christophe Dubi.

A joint statement also contained an admission of the dire threat posed by coronavirus and which both the IOC and the Japanese government had tried to deny for so long before this week’s rush to postponement.

It said:

The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.

Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “accelerating”. There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.

In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.