The thought of not watching Usain Bolt dash across your TV screen or hearing the crowd roar through your speakers after Alex Morgan scores a goal this summer is a daunting one. The long-awaited Summer Olympics is the ultimate sporting event watched and adored by families across the world. Some families’ summers would not be the same without watching gymnastics competitions, beach volleyball matches or even water polo games.
However, for the first time in history, the Summer Olympic games have been postponed for a reason other than war. The world has never come to such a halt as it has due to the novel coronavirus, and the 2020 Olympics has not been left untouched. So how will the event ultimately proceed? How was the decision made? When will the Games take place?
On Tuesday, Mar. 24, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach made the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by about a year. The opening ceremony has already been rescheduled for July 24, 2021. According to ESPN, the Summer Olympics will still be called the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, postponement aside. The iconic Olympic flame will remain and continue to be displayed in Fukushima.
The IOC president and Japan Prime Minister agreed that the Games must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but take place no later than the summer of 2021 in order to look after the health of the athletes and everyone involved currently. Pressure rose from nations and athletes prior to the decision, as both Canada and Australia said they would not send representatives to the Olympics unless there was a delay.
The IOC sent a survey in March to over four thousand American Olympic hopefuls, and almost seven out of 10 agreed the games would not be fair if held in July. Germany and Poland called for the games to be delayed as well.
In a letter to all the athletes, United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote, “We heard your concerns and we shared them. I thank you for being so forthcoming with your perspectives, and also for allowing us the time to hear from your teammates across all sports before making a recommendation to the IOC.”
Hirshland also expressed her sorrow saying, “Despite the feeling of eventuality that so many of us have felt in the lead up to this moment — my heart breaks for you, your fellow athletes around the world, our friends at Tokyo 2020, the people of Japan, and all who are impacted by this global pandemic and the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games 2020.”
Besides the impact on the athletes and everyone involved, the financial impact will be immense. The organizers of the Games estimate the cost to be close to $12.6 billion, but others say it could be closer to $25 billion. This loss does not begin to include all of the investments made by sponsors and broadcasters.
Although the Games, a pastime that many families look forward to, are being postponed, they will happen still. And in these times of uncertainty and trouble, the Olympic Games’ delay can be viewed as something positive, something to look forward to. A statement by the IOC reads, “The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.”
Image courtesy of Google Images
Graphic courtesy of Kate Janson ’20