The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games set to begin on July 24 will be pushed back to 2021 as the world continues efforts to slow the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Tuesday, marking the first-time in more than a century of the modern Olympic Games that event has been delayed.
The decision was made “to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” according to a statement released by the IOC.
The IOC announced Sunday that its executive board would begin exploring alternate scenarios for hosting the Olympic Games, including a scaled back version under the original dates or a full postponement. Just two days later it formally decided on the latter.
The decision was widely expected followed media reports. The Paralympic Games, which were scheduled to start shortly after the Olympic Games in Tokyo, are expected to be postponed as well.
Since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, the event has been cancelled just three times - in 1916, 1940 and 1944 - each time due to war. The Games have never been postponed.
“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,” the IOC statement read. “Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.