Japan, Tokyo Olympic Games

IOC postpones Tokyo Olympics until 2021

The decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics responds to pressure from several countries for the coronavirus pandemic. It is the 1st time that the Olympics have been suspended since World War II.

Japan‘s Prime Minister and the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, finally agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games until next year in an unprecedented decision since World War II, as the world struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

“I proposed to postpone it for about a year and President Bach replied that he was 100% agree,” explained Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, referring to the IOC president. The move could be a devastating blow to the city of Tokyo, which had received high praise for its organisation and preparations for the Olympics, with long-overdue facilities and sold-out tickets.

In recent days the IOC had been under increasing pressure to postpone the Olympic Games, which were scheduled to start on July 24th, amid the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 disease that has forced 1.7 billion people around the world to lock themselves in their homes to prevent the spread of the virus, which has been shown to have an unprecedented rate of transmission and higher mortality than the flu.

In fact, with many countries and regions of the planet under quarantine and with most of international competitions suspended, many athletes have long been denouncing that it is impossible for them to continue their training for the games under the current circumstances of confinement, exposing themselves to infect someone or to become infected with the coronavirus.

First suspension of the Olympic Games since World War II

On Sunday the IOC had announced that it was giving itself a period of one month to decide whether to postpone the Olympics, a far from easy measure given the enormous organisational and economic implications that it entails, but more and more countries were asking for it. The pressure increased after Canada and Australia confirmed that they would not participate in the games, while the United States Olympic Committee joined the voices asking to postpone them.

The Olympic Games have been held without interruption since 1948, after the end of World War II, all these years surviving boycotts, protests, sabotage and even terrorist attacks. Before the war, Tokyo was already chosen to celebrate the 1940 Olympics, but its invasion of China caused its candidacy to be replaced by Helsinki, and finally the outbreak of the conflict forced its definitive suspension.

Tokyo was designated in 2013 to host the 2020 Olympic Games during the vote organised by the IOC in Buenos Aires, in which it forcefully prevailed over the other two favourites: Madrid and especially Istanbul; the Turkish metropolis – which presented its candidacy for the 5th time – won to the Spanish capital in the first round, highlighting the young population of Turkey and the possibility of holding games for the first time in a country with a Muslim majority.

The decision of the IOC to suspend the Olympic Games in Japan is also a hard blow for sponsors and for televisions, which generate considerable income thanks to advertising and broadcasting rights. Tokyo has spent about $ 12.6 billion organising the Olympics, and experts estimate that postponing the games until 2021 could cost an additional $ 6 billion.