September 23, 2022

By no means earlier than had the Olympic Video games been postponed or canceled for one thing apart from struggle, however hardly ever has the world come to a grinding halt the way in which it has over the novel coronavirus.

What felt just like the final main sporting occasion untouched by the present pressure of the coronavirus — recognized formally as COVID-19 — the 2020 Olympics served as a glimmer of hope for all the globe. However on Tuesday, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Worldwide Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by about one yr.

The opening ceremony had been deliberate for July 24.

Regardless of the postponement, the Summer time Olympics — after they finally occur — will nonetheless be referred to as the Olympic and Paralympic Video games Tokyo 2020. The Olympic flame may even stay saved and displayed in Fukushima.

“[T]he IOC president and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Video games … should be rescheduled to a date past 2020 however not later than summer season 2021, to safeguard the well being of the athletes, all people concerned within the Olympic Video games and the worldwide neighborhood,” mentioned a joint assertion by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the IOC.

In keeping with the assertion, the World Well being Group had consulted with each events on Tuesday about what it referred to as the “accelerating” pandemic. There are actually greater than 390,000 confirmed circumstances of COVID-19 worldwide, with greater than 17,000 deaths. Almost each nation has been impacted.

The choice comes lower than 48 hours after the IOC mentioned it was giving itself 4 weeks to decide concerning the Olympics. Because the coronavirus continued to unfold in latest weeks, Bach and members of Japan’s authorities insisted the Video games may go ahead. Sunday’s assertion was the primary on-the-record acknowledgement {that a} postponement may truly occur.

Stress from nations and athletes alike mounted in latest days, and most lately, Canada mentioned it could not ship representatives to the Olympics with no delay. Australia later joined in that call.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee despatched a survey over the weekend to greater than 4,000 American Olympics hopefuls, and almost seven in 10 respondents mentioned they did not suppose the Video games could be honest if held in July. Germany and Poland had additionally referred to as for the Video games to be delayed.

“Regardless of the sensation of eventuality that so many people have felt within the lead as much as this second — my coronary heart breaks for you, your fellow athletes around the globe, our pals at Tokyo 2020, the individuals of Japan, and all who’re impacted by this international pandemic and the choice to postpone the Tokyo Video games 2020,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote in a letter to the athletes.

“We heard your issues and we shared them. I thanks for being so forthcoming along with your views, and likewise for permitting us the time to listen to out of your teammates throughout all sports activities earlier than making a suggestion to the IOC.”

The Olympics had by no means been rescheduled for one thing apart from struggle. In 1916, 1940 and 1944, the Video games have been canceled due to the world wars.

Along with the affect on the athletes whose lives have now been upended by the choice, the monetary affect might be staggering. The organizers of Tokyo 2020 estimated the price to be roughly $12.6 billion, whereas different specialists have put that determine nearer to $25 billion. The delay may even affect the billions spent by sponsors and broadcasters.

The IOC and Tokyo organizers mentioned they hope the choice to postpone will assist the world heal from the pandemic.

“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Video games in Tokyo may stand as a beacon of hope to the world throughout these troubled occasions and that the Olympic flame may turn into the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel by which the world finds itself at current,” the IOC assertion mentioned.

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