UPDATE (March 24, 2020): Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed until next summer. This is the first time in history the Olympic games are being suspended until a later date.
“Considering the current situation, in regards to the Tokyo Games, as the host nation, in order to ensure that athletes from all over the world are able to compete in their best condition, and also in order to ensure the utmost safety for the spectators, I have asked [IOC head Thomas Bach] to consider postponing the games by about a year,” Abe said in a statement (via NBC News). This comes one day after IOC member Dick Pound suggested this was going to be the unprecedented decision.
This article was originally published March 23, 2020.
As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate headlines, yet another sporting event in an industry of wide-spread cancellations is being postponed. This one, however, will impact every country in the world.
The 2020 Olympics set to begin this summer in Tokyo, Japan are being postponed, according to longtime International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound. In a phone interview with USA Today, Pound said that the “immense” ramifications of this postponement will take weeks to process before official plans and final decisions for its rescheduling are made.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postponed
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound, a longtime member of the IOC Executive Board, told USA Today Sports. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the country’s parliament (via NPR) that the Tokyo Games would likely be postponed amidst growing concerns about public health just one day before USA Today’s report.
The Summer Olympics are the largest gathering of athletes from around the world, followed by the FIFA World Cup and ICC Cricket World Cup. A cancellation of the games would put thousands of athletes at risk to never get their only shot at an Olympic medal, so a postponement is truly a best case scenario.
Pound believes the games could be played in 2021.
Australia, Canada Pull Out of Olympics
Before news of the games’ postponement, both the Canadian Olympic Committee and Australian Olympic Committee announced that the two countries would not send athletes to the summer games with the COVID-19 virus infecting thousands around the world.
“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 and Canadian Paralympic Committee said in a statement. “This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health.”
Have the Olympics Ever Been Delayed?
The only other times in history the Olympics were canceled came during war times, including the 1916 Summer Olympics (World War I) and both the Summer and Winter Olympic games in 1940 and 1944 (World War II). The IOC’s decision would mark the first time in history the games were postponed or suspended until a later date.
An official announcement has yet to be made as of this publishing, but all signs point to the Tokyo Olympics being postponed amidst one of the strangest times in sports history during his coronavirus crisis.