For the fourth time in history, the Olympic Committee postponed the Summer Olympic Games for one year. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Back released news March 17 that the opening Olympic ceremony for the Tokyo Summer Olympics will take place July 24, 2021. The decision from the IOC came after multiple nations pushed for a change in dates. Previously, both Canada and Australia announced they would not send athletes if the games stayed in the summer of 2020. Additionally, 4,000 potential US Olympic and Paralympic athletes filled out a survey where, according to ESPN, 70% of athletes said they “didn’t think the games would be fair if held in June.”
The decision to postpone the Olympics for the first time since 1944 did not come lightly. Not only have athletes trained lifetimes in advance only to hear news of the cancellation months beforehand, but rescheduling could have major economic impacts for the advertisers and broadcasting sites that have already invested billions. NBC Universal has invested $4.4 billion dollars in media rights for Olympic coverage from 2014-2020.
Although many hoped the Olympics would provide a glimmer of hope in wake of the coronavirus, athletes and nations from around the world have embraced the decision as a way to contain the pandemic.
“It is time for them to stop thinking about Tokyo 2020 for now and be home and safe with their families. It would have been unthinkable for us to continue to prepare for an Olympic Games at a time the nation and the world no less is enduring great hardship. A postponement is the right decision,” said British Olympic Association’s chief executive, Andy Anson.
Athletes expressed similar opinions over social media. Adam Gemili, a British Olympic sprinter, tweeted “Thankful to finally have some clarity regarding the Olympic Games. A huge decision but I think the right one for sure.” Others expressed their thoughts in simpler messages. Tianna Bartoletta, two-time American track and field Olympian, tweeted “Not denied. Just delayed.”