The normal coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has now benched the world’s biggest sports event. After a two-hour call between the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, both parties have decided, for the safety of the athletes, to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Both Bach and Abe expressed their shared concern about the worldwide health threat, and what it is doing to people’s lives and the significant impact it is having on global athletes’ preparations for the Games.
Based on the information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.
“The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “accelerating”. There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour,” the IOC said in a statement.
While rare, cancelling the Olympic games is not unprecedented. The 1916 Summer Games were canceled because of World War I, as were the Summer and Winter Games in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II. Boycotts also caused serious complications for the games in 1976, 1980 and 1984.
The move to cancel and reschedule began over the weekend as World Athletics, the international federation that oversees track and field, publicly called for the games to be postponed. The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees then took matters a step further by announcing they would not send a delegation of athletes to the Tokyo Games unless.
Less than 24 hours later, Australia’s Olympic Committee released a similar but more ambiguous statement, explaining that its executive board had agreed that “an Australian team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad.”
The German Olympic Committee joined Brazil and Norway, among other countries, in publicly urging the IOC to postpone the games.
Athletes react on Social Media to delay
As one would expect while many of the athletes who had their dreams set on 2020 were disappointed, they were still hopeful. They shared their thoughts on social media , offering words of encouragement. Here are a few below:
With the Tokyo Olympics pushed off the summer TV schedule, NBC not only finds itself having to make up for the loss of more than two weeks of programming, but it will also lose out on a third-quarter ad sales haul of $1.25 billion according to Ad Age.
In a statement released this afternoon, NBC said it is “actively working with our advertising partners to navigate this postponement, and we’re exploring all options to best serve their brands and our consumers this year, and into 2021.” The company added that it has faith that “the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee will put on an exceptional Games next year, and that the Olympic flame will once again unite the world and provide a light at the end of this tunnel.”
Both Bach and Abe agreed that the Olympics 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. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
SOURCE: International Olympic Committee