After months of speculation and with most major sporting events in the world being canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday made the decision to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, scheduled to take place between July 24 and Aug. 9.
The IOC said the Games will be held "not later than summer 2021" but they will still be called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The decision to move the Games comes after weeks of the IOC maintaining that a postponement was not a consideration.
But as of Tuesday, nearly 400,000 people worldwide have contracted the coronavirus, with more than 17,000 deaths, according to a report by Johns Hopkins University. In the United States alone, more than 500 people have died from the virus.
Here is a timeline of all the major Olympics-related decisions and announcements since the coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, China, leading up to the decision to postpone the Games:
• The WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan a global health emergency as cases spread beyond China. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, says the declaration comes now because of fears the coronavirus may reach countries with weak health care systems potentially infecting millions of people and killing several thousands. The United States announces travel restrictions to and from China.
• Diamond Princess, a cruise ship, quarantines 3,600 passengers in Yokohama, Japan, after a two-week trip to Southeast Asia. It is discovered that 128 people on board have the coronavirus, the largest number of cases outside of China.
• Tokyo Olympic organizers and the IOC say there is no Plan B for the Games, which are scheduled to begin in just over five months.
At the time, the coronavirus has infected almost 64,000 people globally with almost 1,400 deaths in China.
"Certainly the advice we've received externally from the WHO is that there's no case for any contingency plans or canceling the Games or moving the Games," said John Coates, head of an IOC inspection team.
• Two hundred new cases of COVID-19 are reported in South Korea. The government responds to the outbreak by closing community centers, nursing homes and kindergartens and ordering all political rallies in Seoul to end.
• Four people in Iran die from the virus. The source of the virus in the country is unknown, according to the Iranian government officials.
• Italy sees a surge in COVID-19 cases -- more than 150 -- and the Italian government shuts down 10 towns in the southeast of Milan. All sporting events are canceled as a result.
• Veteran IOC member Dick Pound says that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer because of the coronavirus outbreak, organizers are more likely to cancel it altogether than to postpone or move it.
Pound, though, encourages athletes to keep training. About 11,000 are expected for the Olympics and 4,400 are bound for the Paralympics, which begin Aug. 25.
• IOC President Thomas Bach sends a letter to all Olympians, asking them to continue training for the Olympics with full steam so "we, the Olympic community, can once more unite the whole world in a peaceful competition."
• The United States bars the entry of foreign nationals who had visited China, Iran and several European countries during the previous 14 days.
• The torch-lighting ceremony takes place in Olympia, Greece, without any spectators.
• U.S. President Donald Trump suggests during a news conference that the Olympics be postponed for a year because of the crisis instead of being held without spectators.
• WHO declares Europe as the new "epicenter" of the COVID-19 pandemic. Less than three months ago, the virus emerged in Wuhan and has spread to more than 132,000 people in 123 countries, killing 5,000 people, WHO officials said.
• French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) president Denis Masseglia says the coronavirus pandemic must be beyond its peak by the end of May for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to go ahead as scheduled.
"If we are beyond the peak and the situation is getting better, questions will rise about who qualifies, but we will find the least worst solution," he said.
• The IOC does not plan any "drastic" decisions about the Games, saying it remains fully committed to the event being staged in July despite the global spread of the coronavirus. "Any speculation at this moment would be counterproductive. The IOC encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as best they can," the IOC said in a statement.
• The IOC boxing task force suspends European qualifiers [in London] and all other events until May. • Six-time Canadian Olympian and member of the IOC athletes' commission Hayley Wickenheiser calls for the IOC not to go forward with the Olympics this summer. "This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics," she wrote on Twitter, adding, "The IOC insisting this will move ahead with such conviction is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity."
• The European Union blocks all nonessential travel to and from the 26 EU nations for 30 days in response to massive outbreaks in Italy, France and Spain.
• Britain's heptathlete, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, leaves her training facility in France because of the spread of the virus, stating that training has become "impossible." Greece's Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi says the IOC was "risking our health."
• The World Athletics chief, Lord Coe, tells BBC Sport it was too early to decide on canceling the Olympics. "We're trying to manage the situation with the information we have but there is not a great deal of information," he said. "Let's not make a precipitous decision when we don't have to four months out."
• Thomas Bach tells The New York Times that cancellation is not on the agenda, but "of course, we are considering different scenarios, but we are contrary to many other sports organizations or professional leagues in that we are four and a half months away from the Games."
• Members within the Japanese Olympic Committee call for postponement of the Olympics. Kaori Yamaguchi, a Japanese bronze medalist in 1988, becomes the first Japanese Olympic Committee executive board member to split with the IOC, saying the IOC "is putting athletes at risk" by continuing with its plan to host the Olympics this summer.
• The International Paralympic Committee says it plans to go ahead with the Tokyo Paralympic Games as scheduled, but acknowledged the difficulties athletes will face as a result of the health crisis.
• USA Swimming, the governing body of the sport in the United States, calls for a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics citing athletes' health and safety, amid the mounting difficulties to train because of restrictions the spread of the coronavirus imposed across the globe.
• United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee chair Susanne Lyons says it is her "deepest wish" that the 2020 Summer Olympics will be able to take place as scheduled, but she admits the organization is planning for a variety of outcomes depending on what happens with the coronavirus in the coming weeks.
• The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee calls for the IOC to postpone the Olympics until the global impact of the coronavirus is under control.
• The torch relay in Japan is canceled as a result of fear of large-crowd congregation, but the flame reached Tokyo in a scaled-down welcoming ceremony.
• The United States closes the border with Mexico to any nonessential travel beginning March 21. This decision comes days after the announcement that the United States and Canada are closing their border by mutual decision, also starting March 21.
• USA Track & Field writes an open letter calling for the postponement of the Olympics. "We are all experiencing unfathomable disruptions, and everyone's lives are being impacted accordingly, it said. "The alternative of moving forward in light of the current situation would not be in the best interest of our athletes [as difficult as that decision might be."]
• American hurdler-turned-bobsledder Lolo Jones says the IOC should postpone the Olympics. "It's tearing athletes apart," Jones said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We want to be like everyone else. We want to be healthy, responsible citizens. But we're also afraid the IOC is going to say, in a month, that the games are on, and, what, hopefully you're going to still be in shape?"
• The Brazil Olympic Committee calls for the postponement of the Games for a year, stating "the notorious worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent difficulty for athletes to maintain their best competitive level."
• The IOC sets a four-week deadline to make a decision on whether to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games.
"The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement," the IOC said as part of a lengthy statement. "The IOC is confident that it will have finalized these discussions within the next four weeks, and greatly appreciates the solidarity and partnership of the [national Olympic committees] and [international federations] in supporting the athletes and adapting Games planning."
How will postponement affect the Olympic calendar?
Jeremy Schaap shares the snowball effect the postponement of the 2020 Olympics will have on the Summer Games and the rest of the Olympic schedule.
• Canada announces it won't send athletes to the Olympics in Tokyo unless the Games are postponed by one year.
"While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community," the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement. "This is not solely about athlete health -- it is about public health."
• Dick Pound tells USA Today Sports that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed, likely to 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks.
"On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided," Pound said in a phone interview with Christine Brennan. "The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know."
• The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee sends a survey over the weekend to more than 4,000 athletes for details on how the coronavirus pandemic has influenced their training and their feelings about the upcoming games; they received responses from 1,780. Nearly 68 percent said they didn't think the Olympics would be fair under the circumstances.
• The Australian Olympic Committee follows Canada's lead and announces that an Olympic team could not be assembled for the Games, also calling for a one-year postponement. The committee said, "Our athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families." The Australian team chef de mission for Tokyo, Ian Chesterman, said, "It's clear the Games can't be held in July. Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them."
• Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Thomas Bach has agreed "100 percent'' to his proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
"We have to think about the current outbreak of the coronavirus," Abe said. "Holding the Olympics in 2020 is difficult. We talked about a one-year postponed, and we agreed on the holding of the event in 2021. We are looking to coordinate venues. IOC meeting will be held soon."