World Rugby have come out in support of the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until 2021 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The decision to delay the games for a year means that men’s rugby sevens champions Fiji – along with women’s champions Australia – must now wait to defend their title following a difficult build-up that was affected by a series of HSBC Sevens Series postponements.

In a statement following the announcement from Japan, World Rugby wrote: “We support the prudent and necessary decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to postpone the Olympic and Paralympic 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.

“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.

“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.”

A statement on the official English Twitter account of Japan president Shinzo Abe had earlier read: “After his telephone talks with IOC president Thomas Bach, PM Abe spoke to the press and explained that the two have agreed that the Tokyo Olympic Games would not be cancelled and the games will be held by the summer of 2021.”

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There have been confirmed cases of the coronavirus in 165 countries with well over 300,000 people diagnosed so far.

Social distancing restrictions imposed by national governments across the globe have had a huge impact on athletes’ ability to prepare and train for the Games, and they had been crying out for the IOC to end the uncertainty and postpone.

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