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Athletes from around the world have backed the IOC’s decision to move the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to 2021.

British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, a likely Gold medal contender on the track in the 100 and 200 meter sprints, is one of them. She warmly welcomed the decision, having previously urged the IOC to postpone the Games.

Asher-Smith had asked how athletes could be expected to prepare for the games properly when the coronavirus pandemic was sweeping the world.

As of Wednesday, March 25 it had affected more 414,277 people and killed more than 17,000. And even communities without lockdown were practice social distancing.

Canada and Australia had already announced they would not be sending teams to the Olympics if it was not pushed forward to 2021.

USA were set to follow Canada and Australia

More countries, including the USA were expected to follow. Their track and field and swimming bodies were already clamoring for a postponement.

The tradition Olympic torch had already been lit and the torch relay leading to the scheduled opening of the Olympics on July 24 was about to start.

But in the end the IOC and Japan’s local organizing committee had little choice but to announce the postponement.

They said: “The Games must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than 2021. This is to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the International community.”

Asher-Smith responded to Tuesday’s announcement with a heart and a #Tokyo2021 hash tag.

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2021 Games will remain ‘Tokyo 2020’

She, like many, will have been surprised to learn it will remain titled ‘Tokyo 2020’ when the event takes place next year.

Dutch Paralympics sprinter Marlou van Rhijn tweeted: “Different year, same goal! #tokyo2021 #staysafe”.

Liam Heath, a British sprint canoeist who won gold at Rio 2016, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I could see it coming from a little way off. To have it confirmed today is a bit of a relief to be quite honest.

“A lot of athletes have to train from home and invent new ways of training to maintain their fitness and their strength. So training has become increasingly difficult.

“There are bigger things playing out now and bigger things that need to be focused on. It’s been pretty tough to carry on as normal when there are more pressing issues.”

Postponement was only possible decision

The British Olympic Association chief executive, Andy Anson, said: “It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement. But, in all consciousness, it is the only decision we can support in light of the devastating impact COVID-19. “

Canadian Olympian Adam van Koeverden said next year would see the Olympic spirit shine brighter than ever.

The Gold medal winner in kayak at the 2004 Athens Olympics is now a member of parliament in his homeland.

He said on Twitter: “The TOKYO OLYMPICS will be held in 2021. The unifying power of sport will bring everyone back together. Hugs, handshakes and high-fives will all be okay again.”

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