Weeks of misery and a 'black box': Inside Tokyo's decision to delay the Olympics

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TOKYO / LAUSANNE (Reuters) – Officials in charge of the Tokyo Olympic Games, crammed around a low table inside Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's mansion, at the end of the third day, grimaced as they chatted over the phone conversations with the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chairman of Tokyo Organizing Committee 2020 Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshi DA Suga attend a telephone conference with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (not pictured) at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan on March 24, 2020, in this photo released by Guan Office Public relations system of Japan through Kyodo. Compulsory credit Japan Cabinet Office of Public Relations through Kyodo / through REUTERS

A few minutes later, Abe emerged to notify a group of reporters that he had just spoken to Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, and they agreed to officially delay the Tokyo Olympics.

The evening call between Abe and Bach ended days and weeks of negotiations between Tokyo and Lausanne, where the IOC is based, and came after Japanese officials denied repeatedly that a pandemic could derailed the Olympics.

Through interviews with more than a dozen people involved in the process in recent weeks, Reuters has put together an account of the crazy days leading up to the third announcement.

It was an extraordinary turning point for an Olympics expected to be held …

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