The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have finally been postponed to 2021 by coronavirus pandemic. It is the first time in history that the date has been changed, but five other times the sport’s most important event was altered for external reasons, three of them canceled and two times where the venue was changed.
The Olympic Games of the modern era were inaugurated in Athens in 1896 by Pierre Coubertin and in the third edition, that of 1904, controversy began. The event was scheduled in Chicago but the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, changed the venue to Saint Louis, where another exhibition was already organized.
After this unexpected change in plans, the next edition did not go as expected either. On that occasion, for the 1908 Games, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius altered the plans of the Olympic Committee. Rome was the city chosen for the celebration of the fourth Games of the modern era, but the Italian Government had to maximize its efforts to rebuild the city of Naples, devastated by a natural disaster, and could not assume the logistical weight of the Olympics.
The World Wars forced the cancellation of three Olympic Games
In this context, London, which that year already hosted the Franco-British Exhibition, hosted the Games. The English took the opportunity to display the full potential of the great empire they owned at the time. A domain that would begin to wane with the wars that were to come, which also affected the Games.
The Olympics were one of the events affected by the two World Wars that occurred during the 20th century. In the first war, between 1914 and 1918, Berlin was the venue chosen to celebrate the sixth edition of the Modern Games, in 1916, but the outbreak of war, with Germany also among those involved, caused the suspension.
The German capital was compensated two decades later by hosting the eleventh edition, after overcoming Barcelona as a candidate. But precisely in Berlin 1936 the germ that would force the last two cancellations of some Games was observed since the German Government was led by the Nazi party, the main cause four years after World War II.
As now, fate did not help Tokyo in 1940, when it was supposed to host the first Games in its history. On that occasion, the second world-wide war forced the cancellation of the event in the Japanese country, which also had to suspend the winter events of that year in Sapporo. The Japanese entered the conflict in December 1941, when they attacked the American base in Pearl Harbor.
London 1944 were the last Games canceled until the postponement of Tokyo 2020
The International Olympic Committee transferred the event to Helsinki, but the invasion of the USSR from the Scandinavian country certified the suspension. World War II, which took place between 1939 and 1945, also forced the cancellation of the 1944 Games, which were to be held in London. After the end of the war, the Games have had to solve serious crises, such as the attacks in Munich 1972 and Atlanta 1996, but they had never been altered, as is the case now with Tokyo 2020, which will take place in 2021.