The Coronavirus and the Postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Explained


After weeks of uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee and native organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo introduced on Tuesday that the Games can be postponed.

It was a giant deal. The Summer Games make up the world’s largest sporting occasion, a multibillion-dollar endeavor that each 4 years brings collectively hundreds of athletes from a whole lot of nations in dozens of sports activities, a whole lot of hundreds of followers and boatloads of cash from large worldwide manufacturers.

Here’s what occurred and what may occur subsequent:

What went down, precisely?

The Games have been postponed till 2021. No particular date was determined, but it surely’s uncommon to shift a date for the Olympics. They have been canceled just for world wars in 1916, 1940 and 1944, and by no means postponed.

But haven’t all large sporting occasions been postponed or canceled?

The overwhelming majority within the spring, sure. But at the same time as all the key sports activities leagues and occasions on this planet — basketball, soccer, golf, you title it — floor to a halt over the previous few weeks within the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Games had declined to decide on their very own occasion, signaling as a substitute that they’d wait to see how every thing performed out.

Many folks discovered that stance unsatisfactory, to say the least. Several referred to as it out as tone deaf and, extra essential, unsafe. Over the previous week, a wave of voices calling for a delay — together with outstanding nationwide Olympic committees, international sports activities federations and particular person athletes — grew too large to disregard, and on Tuesday night time in Japan, the organizers introduced that the Games can be delayed by as much as a 12 months.

When have been the Olympics imagined to happen?

The opening ceremony of the Games was scheduled for July 24, in Tokyo’s nationwide stadium.

And when will the Games be held now?

We don’t know but. All the organizers have mentioned is that the Games can be held someday after 2020 and no later than the summer time of 2021.

What timeframe makes probably the most sense?

Plopping the present schedule for the 2020 Olympics onto the exact same dates in 2021 looks like the best factor to do. But it could create scheduling conflicts with another main worldwide sporting occasions, just like the world championships for monitor and subject and swimming. Holding the Games earlier — say, within the spring of 2021 — may work, however they may then overlap with the schedules of some home sports activities leagues, just like the N.B.A. and all the large ones in European soccer. A springtime Olympics would additionally depart little or no time for all the varied athlete qualification occasions all over the world that have to happen earlier than the Olympics. So some robust selections nonetheless have to be made.

So Tokyo 2020 will now be generally known as Tokyo 2021?

Um, no. They’re asking us to maintain calling it Tokyo 2020. It could probably not make sense, but it surely’ll allow them to keep away from redoing a bunch of stuff associated to the branding and advertising and marketing of the occasion. (People will presumably name it what they need.)

If the Olympics are each 4 years, what concerning the Winter Games?

Both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games are held each 4 years. Since 1994, although, the 2 occasions have been staggered, in order that there are an Olympics each two years. The subsequent two Summer Games after Tokyo, for instance, are scheduled to happen in Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028. The subsequent Winter Games will probably be in Beijing in 2022 and Milan in 2026.

What will the athletes do now?

Lots of them are asking that very query. Thousands of athletes all over the world have been planning, or hoping, to compete on the Games this 12 months. Most of them must maintain coaching — a job extra difficult in a pandemic — and simply intention now to reach their peak of efficiency someday in 2021 as a substitute of late this summer time. But the postponement will complicate issues for lots of them. Not all Olympians, as an illustration, are wealthy and well-known. Many of them produce other jobs, go to high school or have life plans that they’ve placed on maintain to pursue their athletic careers. They need to resolve whether or not it’s price their time to attend one other 12 months for the occasion to happen.

What about individuals who have tickets for the Olympics?

They’re engaged on that. Tickets had been in excessive demand, in Japan and all over the world, and greater than 5 million of them had been bought. Another spherical of gross sales was set to start in May, however that has been delayed for now. Toshiro Muto, the chief government of the organizing committee in Tokyo, famous that the organizers would “make sure not to inconvenience people as much as possible.” But, he admitted, they weren’t but certain how it could all play out.