CONFIRMING WEEKS OF speculation, the IOC has confirmed that the Summer Olympics of 2020 will be postponed by a year in light of the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.
With sporting events on hold throughout the world as countries battle to limit the spread of COVID-19, the International Olympic Committee chose to take their time assessing the current situation and arrive at a decision. But with each passing day it became to seem more likely that there would be a postponement of the Games.
Over the last couple of weeks officials of many national associations, including Indian Olympic Assocition, began to question whether holding the Olympics in Tokyo this summer as per schedule would compromise the participating athletes' health and put them at risk of catching the virus.
Finally this morning, at a high level meeting attended by IOC officials as well as senior leaders from the host country of Japan, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, it was decided that the Games would take place next year instead. The starting date has been fixed at 23rd July 2021.
A press release from the IOC said,
"The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is "accelerating". There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.
In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.
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. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020."
In the past, the Olympics were not held on three occasions. The 1916 Berlin Olympics were cancelled due to World War I, while the Olympics of 1940 and 1944 also could not be held due to the World War II.
The 2020 Games, however, have not been cancelled as yet; merely postponed. The original insignia and branding of Tokyo 2020 will be maintained even if the event takes place in 2021, maintaining the unbroken chain of Olympic events.
Slated to be the first major worldwide sporting spectacle, the Olympics may just become a symbol of humanity's collective victory over the COVID-19 pandemic. That's something worth waiting for, even if the wait has been prolonged by a year.