Tokyo 2020 has been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images

A "very strong degree of international cooperation" will be needed to address the challenges arising from the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to British International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Sir Craig Reedie.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach today agreed to postpone the Games until no later than the summer of 2021 in response to growing worldwide concern over the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision, which follows pressure from high-profile National Olympic Committees and athletes to delay the Games, poses significant challenges for the IOC, organisers and others involved in rearranging the event.

Venues and the impact on the global sports calendar are among the issues which will need to be considered in the lead-up to the first Olympic Games to be postponed in peacetime.

Sir Craig told insidethegames he expects more details on next steps to come when Tokyo 2020's Executive Board meets on Monday (March 30), and expressed confidence the world will unite to address the problems stemming from the postponement.

British IOC member Sir Craig Reedie said it was right to postpone Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
British IOC member Sir Craig Reedie said it was right to postpone Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

"We are going to need a very strong degree of international cooperation going forward, the same as will be needed to defeat this coronavirus," Sir Craig, who chaired the Evaluation Commission for Tokyo 2020, told insidethegames.

"I expect the IOC and Tokyo 2020 will start discussing next steps at the Tokyo 2020 board meeting next week.

"I have sympathy for the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee but if any city can meet the inevitable new logistical demands it is Tokyo - and Japan."

In a joint statement, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 said the Games had been rescheduled to "safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community".

The Games taking place as planned had grown increasingly unlikely in recent weeks amid the outbreak of COVID-19, which has killed more than 18,000 people and infected in excess of 416,000 worldwide.

William Blick, an IOC member and head of the Ugandan Olympic Committee, also backed the decision to postpone the Games.

"I am happy the IOC has made a good decision," Blick told insidethegames.

"I am confident of their judgement and will continue to follow their advice.

"For sure we will handle [the challenges]. 

"I think it's a great challenge to prove how dynamic the IOC is."

Vitaly Smirnov, the Honorary President of the Russian Olympic Committee and an honorary member of the IOC, told TASS he had "no doubt" Tokyo 2020 would be postponed.

"If the Japanese Prime Minister opposed it and the world is in such a state right now, there was simply no other option," he said. 

"In view of this, a whole array of issues emerges, the key one being the state of affairs in Japan.

"The country spent $30 billion (£25 billion/€27 billion) to prepare for the Olympics, looking to gain $300 billion (£253 billion/€277 billion). 

"In the end, they are in a terrible plight now because they built many facilities and buildings that the country does not need. 

"The option [to hold competitions] without spectators would do little to improve the situation."