Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postponed Until 2021 Because of Coronavirus

  • Tokyo Olympics to be held no later than next summer
  • Canada and Australia had announced they would not send athletes during pandemic
  • U.S. athletes did not feel competition would be fair if held this summer
Olympic rings outside of stadium in Tokyo
To ensure athlete safety amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed until 2021. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

First non-war rescheduling of Olympics

The final shoe dropped in the sports world on Tuesday, as the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee announced that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The opening ceremony for the quadrennial Summer Games was scheduled for July 24, exactly four months from today.

in the interest of keeping athletes safe…it was best to push the Olympic Games to next year

Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and Abe Shinzo, the Prime Minister of Japan, held a conference call Tuesday morning to discuss matters. They decided that in the interest of keeping athletes safe in the face of a growing COVID-19 pandemic, it was best to push the Olympic Games to next year.

Bach and Shinzo said the Olympics will be held no later than summer 2021. They will still be called the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

This is first time an Olympic Games has been rescheduled for a reason other than war. The 1916, 1940, and 1944 games were all canceled because of world wars.

Countries were already dropping out

Just a couple of days ago, Bach and representatives from Japan’s government said the Olympic Games would still be held. At the same time, however, they did say publicly that they were having discussions about postponement.

It did seem inevitable that this action was coming. Within the last few days, both Canada and Australia said that they would not send athletes to the 2020 Summer Games. Canada sent 314 athletes to the 2016 Olympics and Australia sent 421, making up 6.5% of the total athletes. Losing just those two nations alone would have been a significant hit to this summer’s competition.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) sent a survey to about 4,000 American Olympic hopefuls to gauge their feelings on competing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 1,800 responded. A quarter said that they have not been able to train at all during the crisis and 65% said their training has either been severely impacted or non-existent.

68% of the athletes said the Games would not be a fair competition if they went forward as scheduled

Perhaps most importantly, 68% of the athletes said the Games would not be a fair competition if they went forward as scheduled. In part because of the athletes’ response, the USOPC said that “path toward postponement is the most promising” to ensure everyone’s safety.

Sports world has gone dark

The 2020 Olympics was arguably the last major sporting event or league scheduled for the next few months that has either been canceled, suspended, or postponed. The only other one that might be considered in the “major sporting event” that has not been moved is the 2020 World Series of Poker, slated for two months from now in Las Vegas.

The rash of sports postponements effectively began on March 11 when the NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with coronavirus. Over the next couple days, college basketball ended the season, canceling March Madness, the NHL suspended its season, and MLB ended spring training and delayed the start of the regular season.

In the soccer world, the Champions League, Premier League, Europa League, and MLS all suspended their seasons. UEFA also postponed Euro 2020 until next summer.

Currently, the world is virtually devoid of professional sports.