The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for this upcoming summer, have been moved to July 23rd, 2021 by the International Olympics Committee (IOC). The IOC announced on Monday that the Games have been rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. This announcement comes at a difficult time for organizers, who had planned to hold the event from July 24th to August 9th, 2020 in Tokyo. Significant pressure had been placed on the IOC and Japanese Organizers by athletes, sports federations, and National Olympic Committees to reschedule the ceremony. The International Olympic Committee eventually said in March that the event would be postponed following recommendations from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Though the IOC agreed to postpone the ceremony, they were reluctant to push the event past the summer of 2021.
On Nippon Television, Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee President stated: “I want to offer some conclusions by the end of next week after we’ve mulled it over. The Games are meant to be in summer, so we should be thinking of a time between June and September.” The organizers involved were opposed to the Olympics being held in the spring and are set, for the time being, on a summer date. The organizers hoped to choose a date similar to the one picked out for this year, considering that the Olympics has to accommodate for many crowded sporting schedules and multiple other engagements. In his statement, Mori emphasized that once the official date has been set, he will focus on reorganizing all of the qualifying events that were impacted by the coronavirus.
However, July and August are Tokyo’s hottest months, and many have voiced concern over the safety of athletes and crowds during that time, even if rescheduled for the following year. Representatives for the sports of table tennis, swimming, triathlon and equestrian have all voiced that they would like the games to be rescheduled for the spring. But spring is likely to be out of the question for the Olympic Games, as it would clash with major sporting seasons in the North America, as well as that of major league soccer. The European soccer championships are also being moved to 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and are also being rescheduled for the summer, though in June.
Though these rescheduled events will cause havoc and inconvenience for thousands of people, the crucial outcome of this planning is to ensure people remain safe, that cities can successfully keep their residents sheltered at home, and that no athletes, organizers, or crowds come to harm as result of this rapidly spreading virus. In this sense, cancelling this year’s Olympics is an unfortunate but essential measure, in order to help stop the spread of a pandemic that has already taken thousands of lives.
The events of this year are unprecedented, even beyond the virus and state-mandated quarantines. This will be the first time in history that the Olympics will be postponed during an era of peace. The Olympics, which were canceled in 1916 due to World War I and again in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II, will be cancelled this year not because of destruction, battles, or invasions, but because world leaders need their citizens to stay home, to stay safe, and to remain healthy for the following year.