Summer Olympics Postponement

This summer’s Olympic games were originally scheduled to start July 24th in Tokyo, but will now be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has said that the games will take place no later than summer 2021, though no specific date was decided. The Olympics have only ever been cancelled for world wars in 1916, 1940 and 1944. This article aims to answer all the major questions that you may have around the Olympics.

When will the games be held now?

The proposal to delay the summer Olympics came about due to pressure on the organisers of the Tokyo games from prominent national Olympic committees, global sports federations and individual athletes themselves. Some countries such as Germany and Poland called for the Games to be delayed. This pressured the organisers to announce that the games would be delayed by up to a year. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had agreed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to delay the world’s biggest sporting event until next year. “I proposed to postpone for about a year and the IOC president Thomas Bach responded with 100% agreement” Abe said.    

What time frame makes most sense?

The simplest thing to do is to schedule the Olympic games in 2021 on the same dates as it would have been this year. However, some complications may arise with these dates due to scheduling conflicts with some other major international sporting events like the world championship for track and field and swimming. Holding the games earlier, in spring 2021, brings its own set of problems. This is because it could overlap with sports leagues like N.B.A and European football. If the Olympics were to take place during spring it doesn’t leave very much time for all the various athlete qualification events around the world that need to take place before the Olympics. These issues need to be looked at before a definitive date can be given.

What does it mean for Japan?

This has been a huge blow for Japan as the games were expected to attract 10,000 athletes and 500,000 international visitors.  Local businesses, both big and small were expecting record profits this year. Now they face the prospect of financial ruin after suffering from the pandemic that has kept foreign tourists away. Commercial contracts will have to be revised and the availability of venues revisited. The media industry has also been affected with the television sector in particular being hard hit. It is particularly tough for a TV network to replace the Olympics in its schedule. Major brands are also going to be hit because sponsoring and advertising during the Olympics is their way of connecting with a global audience.

Will it still be Tokyo 2020?

The organisers have clearly stated that they will keep calling it Tokyo 2020 in order to avoid having to waste money with rebranding and marketing of the event. You can, obviously, call it what you like! The Olympic flame will remain in Japan until the postponed games are held. This will be seen as a beacon of light bringing hope after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

What will athletes do now?

Thousands of athletes around the world were planning on competing at the games this year.  Most of them will have to keep training and aim to reach their peak performance for some time in 2021. This is because athletes who were going to compete do not automatically qualify for the Games next year.  This may also complicate things for those who are not rich and famous and have taken off time from education or work. In general, however, Olympians such as Alistair Brownlee (double Olympic triathlon), Jazmin Sawyers (long jumper) and Sophie Mckinna (British shot putter) have seen to have said that the decision made has been the right one moving forward and in the best interests for all.

What about people who have tickets for the Olympics?

Tickets have been in high demand and more than five million have been sold. Another round of sales was scheduled for May but this has now been delayed. It has not quite been decided yet what will happen to those who purchased tickets.

The economy of not just Japan but many other countries, including our own is going through a massive shock with the pandemic. Sport has an incredible ability to bring people together and represents qualities we all strive for such as leadership, team work, self-reliance etc. The Olympics will no doubt be held, eventually, and it is something that can unify as again after the difficult situation we find ourselves in.

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