On Monday, International Olympic Committee vice president Dick Pound indicated that the 2020 Summer Olympics were on the verge of getting postponed. One day later and the IOC, in consultation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a collection of others involved in the process, announced that this will be the case.
The decision was revealed on a conference call, with a statement on the official site of the Olympic Games coming soon after, and was made following a number of calls for the games to be called due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19 — Canada indicated it would not send athletes to Japan this summer, while multiple sporting organizations in the United States called on the nation’s Olympic and Paralympic committee to push for a cancelation. There will not be a cancelation, though, as the IOC will postpone the games to some time in 2021.
“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” the release said.
While postponing the Olympics is not unprecedented, it is unprecedented for this to occur for something other than a war. The 1916 Games in Berlin were canceled due to World War I, while World War II led to the cancelation of the 1940 Olympics in Helsinki and the 1944 Olympics in London. Despite the postponement, the Olympic flame will stay in Japan, while it will still be referred to as the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.