The coronavirus global pandemic seems to be shutting down daily life. Yesterday, the world’s biggest sporting event got a likewise big shove. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it will postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Cancellation for this summer seemed certain. Nervous athletes, sports organizations, and national Olympic committees realized that disrupted training and travel wouldn’t allow the athletes to be ready for the world stage.
Olympic committees in Canada and Australia said they either would not, or could not, send a team to Tokyo in July.
Finally, the IOC said the Tokyo Games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
Four-time Olympic hockey champion and IOC member Hayley Wickenheiser tweeted, “To all the athletes: Take a breath, regroup, take care of yourself and your families. Your time will come.”
Olympics in 1916, 1940, and 1944 were canceled because of war. But none have ever been postponed for any reason. Interestingly, the rescheduled games will still be called the 2020 Olympics, even though they’ll be held in 2021.
Athletes are relieved. They don’t need to keep training under near-impossible conditions.
“Thankful to finally have some clarity regarding The Olympic Games. A huge decision but I think the right one for sure,” says British sprinter Adam Gemili.
The IOC’s decision also affects the many arenas, stadiums, and hotels already scheduled—plus the international sports schedule. Almost all 33 sports on the Olympic program have big events already on the docket for 2021.
As recently as Sunday, the IOC said it would take up to four weeks to reach a decision. That ended up being two days.
The decision came just hours after organizers declared the torch relay would start as planned on Thursday. But with no torchbearers and no public—those plans changed.
The flame will be stored and displayed in Fukushima, Japan. Like everything else in the Olympic world, its next move will be determined at a later date.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. — Proverbs 16:9
(The Olympic Rings at the entrance of the IOC, International Olympic Committee headquarters on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)