Tokyo Olympics postponed until next year

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Photo courtsy of wikimediacommons.org

The logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, now rescheduled for 2021.

Rolando Rios, Reporter

Many major events have been cancelled or postponed in the wake of growing concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19). One event that has been rescheduled is the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Due the international practice of social distancing to avoid the spread of the virus, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have been postponed.

“Postponing the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak is absolutely the right thing to do…The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sport event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible. Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is,” Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympics Committee (IPC), said.

Originally, the event was set to take place from Tuesday, August 25 to Sunday, September 6. In the context of Olympics, this is a historic moment, while countries have boycotted the Olympic Games in the past, the Games have never been outright cancelled, except for both World Wars. The Olympic flame will remain displayed in Fukushima.

“Despite the feeling of eventuality that so many of us have felt in the lead up to this moment—my heart breaks for you, your fellow athletes around the world, our friends at Tokyo 2020, the people of Japan and all who are impacted by this global pandemic and the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games 2020…We heard your concerns and we shared them,” Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), said.

A new Olympic task force called New Start Tokyo 2020 was created by Olympic organizers on March 26. Japan has already spent an estimated one-point-thirty-five trillion yen (12.35 billion dollars) on the Games and the rescheduling will cost even more. New venues, staff and warehouses will have to be hired.

“We all recognize the delay in actual income that may come and the reimbursements that should be made for bookings and otherwise…You think the hotels too that counted on the revenue, that turned away other types of reservations, those sorts of things are going to be devastating…The feeling about these is that it’s what governments do…it’s not a mutual fund, there’s not supposed to be a return on everything; they will just make[it] bigger than they have intended,” Kenneth L. Shopshire, the director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania and former Olympic organizer for the 1984 Games, said

The rescheduling of the Games may affect Japanese politics. The current government was expecting a large amount of good publicity from hosting the games. The government believed that the country would experience a period of economic growth from the Olympics.

“The [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe administration has made a big policy play based upon sport, which was supposed to yield a return during next year’s election…Yet now, the ruling party faces the possibility of not being able to remain in power to witness whatever positive economic impacts might be generated from hosting the mega-event…The country was anticipated a GPD bounce from hosting the Games. This bounce would inevitably have been the consequence of, for example, spending on hotels, food, visits to tourist attractions and so forth…Clearly, the postponement will delay the bounce, but this is likely to have ramifications for many in Japan,” Simon Chadwick, a professor of Eurasian Sport at Emlyon Business School, said.

The Games have been rescheduled for July 23 through August 9, 2021, with the Paralympic Games occurring from August 24 to September 5 next year. Other details about this future Olympic Games have yet to be revealed. The impact of the postponement of the Olympics on the world  at large can only be speculated on.