The Japanese Prime Minister and International Olympic Committee president have agreed to postpone the July 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics to the summer of 2021.
With the impounding threat of the global pandemic still looming, officials have made the decision to delay the Olympics until the coming year to ensure the safety of the audience members, athletes and any other staff members present.
“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,” said IOC’s and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee in a joint statement.
The Olympic torch procession scheduled before the start of the games has also been canceled.
However, in the midst of this delay, officials have agreed to keep “the Olympic flame” in Japan, according to CNN.
This is yet another historic decision because of COVID-19. The Olympics have never been rescheduled during peacetime and have only been canceled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 because of the world wars; though, leaders from many countries were showing opposition to continuing the games as scheduled.
“Australia and Canada both announced they would not be sending athletes to Tokyo this year, and — along with the likes of USA, Germany and Poland — called for the Games to be postponed until 2021,” said CNN.
USA Track and Field, as well as USA Swimming, also called for a postponement. Other athletes who have not been able to train due to the virus have also opposed the continuation of the games.
“Like all athletes, we’re kind of at a loss,” pole vaulter Sandy Morris said to CNN Sport. “It’s either risk your own health and drive across the country and go join another small training group in a private facility, or… wait it out and see if the facilities open back up in four weeks. That’s where we’re at.”
On the other hand, the decision to postpone the Olympics could have a big financial impact. The cost of hosting the games in Tokyo in December was $12.35 billion, which is not including the cost of moving some ceremonies due to the summer weather, according to Reuters. Many sponsors and broadcasters have also put money toward the Olympics.
According to CNN, a likely guess is $25 billion for the postponement which has largely “already been spent on large-scale infrastructure projects such as transportation networks, hotels and new venues.”