THE British Olympic Association has welcomed the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone this year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The IOC issued a joint statement with Tokyo 2020 organisers and the Japanese government yesterday announcing that this summer’s Games would be postponed until 2021 because of the global coronavirus pandemic. New dates are yet to be confirmed, but the intention is to hold the Olympics no later than “the summer of 2021”.

On another busy day of sporting reorganisation, the Football Association is understood to have called a premature end to all seasons at steps five and six of the non-league pyramid, meaning the current Northern League campaign is over.

Durham Cricket Club have closed their Emirates Riverside ground, and offered it to the local council and NHS should it be of any use in the fight against coronavirus, while England Golf have instructed all golf courses to close in the wake of the Prime Minister’s strict new social lockdown measures announced on Monday night.

With most of the world introducing social distancing measures, the IOC finally bowed to the inevitable yesterday afternoon and confirmed the postponement of the Olympics.

Postponement instead of cancellation means the cost implications for the IOC and the local organisers will be significant but manageable, as broadcasters and sponsors instead gear up for what they hope will be humanity’s great coming out party in 2021.

BOA chief executive Andy Anson said Team GB’s preparation’s had been “compromised irreparably” by the UK’s social distancing measures, and claimed the IOC’s decision was the right one.

“We have incredible sympathy for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and indeed our colleagues at the IOC, who are working tirelessly to seek a positive outcome to this difficult scenario,” said Anson. “The Olympic Games is a symbol of hope for all and we are sure we will be in Tokyo at the appropriate time as the world re-emerges from this dark period.”

Funding for sports governing bodies from the Exchequer and the National Lottery is tied into Olympic cycles, and in the normal run of things a new UK Sport funding cycle would begin from the start of April 2021. The decision to postpone means a workaround will be needed.

The FA’s decision to scrap matches at steps five and six means the Northern League season is over, although it is not yet clear whether the campaign will be voided or finishing positions determined by the current table.

As things stand, Stockton Town top the Northern League’s First Division, 14 points clear of second-placed Shildon. West Allotment Celtic lead the Second Division, ahead of Redcar Athletic.

There has been no announcement with regard to the FA Vase, with Consett and Hebburn having reached the semi-finals.