On Tuesday, Japan and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the 2020 Summer Olympics, which were planned for this summer in Tokyo, have been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the first time the Olympics have been postponed in the 124-year history of the Games. Though the move is disappointing for many athletes who have been preparing for this summer for years, it is also not surprising.
Many people have been expecting this news for some time, since so many of the world’s normal activities have been stopped by the coronavirus. Almost all other large sporting events around the world have been postponed or canceled in recent weeks.
The virus had already caused many qualifying events to be delayed. For athletes everywhere, it was getting much harder to continue to train in the way they needed to.
But for weeks, the IOC and organizers in Japan insisted that the Olympics would be held as planned.
In recent days, there has been more and more pressure on Japan and the IOC to delay the games. Olympic team leaders from many countries encouraged the delay. Some countries, like Canada, Australia, and the US, said they wouldn’t take part if the games went ahead as scheduled.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the decision “heartbreaking” for athletes, coaches, and fans, but he agreed that “…this was absolutely the right call.”
Many athletes had mixed feelings about the news. As British swimmer Adam Peaty said, “As an athlete, I am obviously extremely disappointed, but this is more important and bigger than me or any of the athletes that would have been taking part. This is a matter of life or death and we all need to do the right thing.”
The Olympics had been scheduled to run for about two weeks starting July 24. The Paralympics were planned for August 25. No new dates have been set for the games, but plans now call for the Olympics to be held “no later than the summer of 2021.”
Delaying the Olympics for a year will have many other effects, as well. For example, many sporting events which are already scheduled for 2021 may have to be postponed, too. The 2021 athletics championships and aquatics championships are already planned for the summer of 2021.
This is the first time the Olympics have ever been suspended. But in the past, they have been canceled three times – once during World War I and twice during World War II.
The Olympic torch, which is brought from Greece to the city holding the Olympics, has already had a difficult trip to Japan. One section of the run in Greece was canceled because of fears that crowds would gather. In other areas, the torch traveled by car because of the virus.
The torch is now in Fukushima, Japan where it will stay until a new schedule is announced.
Update: Organizers have announced a new schedule for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Plans now call for the Games to be held between July 23, 2021 and August 8, 2021.
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