For the first time in history

The impact of the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games



MAKING HISTORY. For the first time in 124 years, the Olympic Games will be postponed. In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the IOC in coordination with the Prime Minister of Japan has decided to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games until 2021. While the postponement of the Games holds sorrow for many, the IOC and other Olympic leaders agree that the future Olympic Games should hold a symbol of hope, with the Olympic flame being “the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.”

   Every four years, the world comes together for the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games. From breath-taking displays of international pride, to the parade of nations, to the culmination of the torch relay, it is a well-awaited ceremony for the athletes and spectators alike.


   Unfortunately, the world will have to wait one more year in order to see this spectacle and the games that follow.


   Scheduled to take place in Tokyo, the opening ceremony had been planned for July 24 of this year, according to ESPN. However, it has now been postponed until 2021, due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).


   “The IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games… must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but no later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” said a joint statement from the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the IOC.


   With the cancellations and postponements of many other sporting events such as March Madness, the postponing of the Olympics might just seem like another event to add to the group; however, this is a much larger ordeal than one may think.


   So what exactly makes the postponing of the Olympics a top headline in the news?


   Since the hosting of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, the Olympics have been canceled on only three occasions according to History, all of them during wars—once during World War I, and twice during World War II. However, this is the first time the Games have been postponed, according to a statement made in IOC president Thomas Bach’s statement to athletes.


   In addition to historical significance, the postponement is expected to have a major economic impact.


   The one-year postponement of the games is likely to cost Japan $6 million, according to Katsuhiro Miyamoto, a professor of economics at Kansai University, as per the New York Times. In addition, local businesses, specifically hotels, are already feeling pressure due to a drop in sales from the coronavirus. The postponement of the Olympic Games will likely make their economic situation worse.


   “It’s a real kick in the guts,” said Shigeki Kitahara, president of the Ryokan and Hotel Association, to the New York Times.


   However, perhaps the most devastating impact the postponement of the Olympics has had is on the athletes who have been training and waiting for years for their moment. While heartbreaking, many athletes have come to terms with the decision, and have expressed their wishes for the greater good.


   “Just one more year to get better,” said Lilly King, USA double Olympic swimming gold medalist from Rio 2016, as per CNN.


   Other athletes shared King’s view, including heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who had been one of the leading athletes in expressing her concerns about competing in Japan.


   “Waited eight years for this, what’s another one in the grand scheme of things? As an athlete, it’s heartbreaking news about the Olympics being postponed until 2021, but it’s for all the right reasons and the safety of everyone! Stay indoors,” Johnson-Thompson wrote on Twitter, as per CNN.


   The IOC and other leaders involved in the decision to postpone the Games are also viewing this as a positive, agreeing that the future Olympic Games could stand “as a beacon of hope during these troubled times” according to an Olympic news press release. 


   As we continue to stride through these difficult times, it is most important that regardless of what event is canceled or postponed, or what challenge is placed in front of us, that we keep going. While the coronavirus may place obstacles in front of us that appear insurmountable, it cannot put out the Olympic flame that resides in all of us as a reminder to keep going, and never, ever, give up.