Sport loses this year the most anticipated world event. Finally, the Tokyo Olympics will be held in 2021 by the crisis of coronavirus. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has accepted the Japanese government’s proposal to postpone “no later” next summer the Olympic event that was to start on July 24.
IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo have agreed in such a way in a telematic meeting held on Tuesday with all the agents involved. Advanced news on Japanese television NHK that shortly afterward the organizers complemented with the official statement in which they regretted the change of date.
The Olympic flame, “the light at the end of the tunnel”
Both Bach and Shinzo have expressed “their shared concern” about the global pandemic of COVID-19 that has already affected more than 375,000 people in the world and that continues to spread without brake, as well as the “impact” it is having on ” people’s lives ”and in the“ preparation ”of the 11,000 athletes from 206 countries who were planning to compete this summer. “It is the best way to preserve your health and that of all the people involved in the Olympic Games.”
The pressure exerted by strong countries such as the United States, Australia or Canada has put an end to Bach’s stubbornness, who had given four weeks to make a decision. However, the spread of the coronavirus precipitates it all and the IOC has given its arm to twist. He just wanted to postpone Tokyo 2020 for a few months to minimize the serious unavoidable economic consequences of the postponement after having invested more than 25,000 million euros.
“I regret the decision, but I am very relieved,” said Yoshiro Mori, president of the organizing committee at a subsequent press conference. “They can now prepare even better Games,” he added. Mori also informed that the nomenclature of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be maintained. The Olympic flame will remain in Fukushima prefecture, northeast of the Japanese capital and a region affected by the 2011 tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident, to “Become the light at the end of the tunnel,” says the IOC.
Some athletes and organizations have already shown their support for this decision. The Superior Sports Council (CSD) claimed to be “the best”, “inevitable” and “logical” for a few days. “We are sorry because it reflects the severity of the world’s health emergency, but the IOC has done the right thing. The situation, in our opinion, made it unfeasible that they could be played on equal terms and with guarantees of health protection for athletes, “said Irene Lozano, president of the CSD.
“I regret the decision, but I feel very relieved,“ said
Bach trusts that the Olympics of 2021 “serve to celebrate that humanity has overcome this crisis never seen before.” Other competitions scheduled for next years, such as the Swimming and Athletics World Cups or the women’s soccer Eurocup, must surely be rescheduled. Other problems stemming from the postponement are the thousands of families waiting to settle in the Olympic Village after the Paralympics or the renegotiation of audiovisual rights contracts in a downward economic context. Antonio Samaranch, Vice President of the IOC, stated in Catalunya Ràdio that the option of holding the Games in the spring is valued.
It is the fourth time in history that the Olympics are suspended, although in this case they will be held, unlike what happened in the editions of 1916, 1940 and 1944, canceled by the First and Second World War. Curiously, the 1940 one also affected Tokyo, later the organizer of the 1964 Games.