Despite repeated claims up until now that the games would continue as scheduled, even with no fans in attendance, the 2020 Summer Olympics have been postponed amid concerns over the global health crisis currently rocking the world. The New York Times first reported the news. The games were set to take place in Tokyo, Japan, from July 24 through August 9. Japan has reportedly invested between $32-$41 billion dollars in building venues and accommodations for the event. As of March 20, the CDC reported a total of 1,030 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan. A new date for the Olympics has not been set, but it will take place in 2021.
While International Olympics Committee president Thomas Bach doubled down in a weekend statement, insisting “cancellation is not on the agenda,” the writing was on the wall Monday morning in an interview with veteran Committee member Dick Pound in USA Today. He said, “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided… The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know,” he said. “It will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
Athletes had called on the committee to cancel the ceremony. Japanese Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi, winner of a bronze medal in judo at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, called upon the Olympics to be postponed in light of the fact that participating athletes weren’t able to adequately prepare for the competition. “The Olympics should not be held in a situation people in the world can’t enjoy,” Yamaguchi said. “As far as I can tell, athletes in the United States and Europe are unable to train as normal and finish their qualifying matches. That makes it impossible for them to appear well prepared at the start, with all the associated risks.”
Japanese prime minster Taro Aso made the controversial remark last week (per CNN) that the Olympics, every 40 years, appear to be “cursed,” as the 1940 Summer and Winter Games were forced to cancel amid World War II, and in 1980 the games in Moscow suffered due to a United States-led boycott in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
The postponement of the Summer Olympics is the latest casualty of a pandemic that has put virtually every sector of the entertainment industry on pause — from movie-theater exhibition, production, and distribution, to Broadway shows, and major sporting events such as the NBA basketball, NHL hockey, and MBA baseball seasons.