Tokyo Olympics postponed for a year
The Tokyo Olympic Games were pushed back on Tuesday to 2021, the first of their kind in the entire 124-year modern history of the Games..
While this came as a huge blow to Japan, which has invested $ 12 billion in preparations for the Olympics, the decision is a relief for thousands of athletes worried about how to train as the world is at a standstill due to an illness that has claimed more than 16,500 lives..
Pressure was put on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its influential president, Thomas Bach, with some athletes and sports organizations pointing out the time it took to make the inevitable decision.
«We asked President Bach to consider a one-year delay so that athletes can play in better conditions, Abe said. – President Bach said he agreed 100 percent».
IOC confirmed this.
Although this marked the first postponement of the Olympic Games, they were canceled several times during the two world wars of the 20th century. Major Cold War boycotts also spoiled the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984..
Athletes were disappointed but generally supported these measures, given the health risks and disruption to their training in gyms, stadiums and swimming pools closed around the world..
«I am participating in a small cycling race, which is nothing compared to what is happening in the world now, – said the American Olympic BMX champion Connor Fields before the official announcement. – No sport is important if more people can die from it».
Two-time Australian Olympic swimming champion Kate Campbell says it’s hard for her, but she is ready for new challenges.
«The targets didn’t disappear – they just moved», – she said after her country announced that it would not go in Tokyo, if the Games take place.
American skateboarder and gold medal contender Nija Houston was disappointed, especially considering that his sport was supposed to debut in Tokyo.
«When skating finally enters the Olympics, it is postponed, the 25-year-old tweeted on Instagram after the delay seemed inevitable. – I was ready too… now I need to be a year older!»
The coronavirus outbreak has raged around the world since the beginning of this year, infecting nearly 380,000 people and disrupting sporting events from European soccer to Formula 1..
Despite the disappointment, not to mention the financial loss, the survey showed that about 70% of Japanese people agree with the delay..
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters that the postponed Games will continue to be called «Tokyo 2020».
World Athletics said it will be ready to reschedule the 2021 World Cup scheduled for Aug 6-15 in Oregon to clear the way for the Olympics.
The Athletics Association said that a survey of over 4,000 athletics competitors showed that 78% of that number would like the Games to be postponed..
American founder of the association, two-time Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor, is among the athletes unable to exercise due to social distance and closures.
«There is no sandbox for me, I don’t wear spikes for jumping for two weeks», – he told the British newspaper Times.
The decision on Tuesday was made 122 days before the scheduled opening ceremony at the newly built National Stadium of Japan, which was to open a 16-day sports carnival, in which 11,000 athletes from 206 countries will take part..
This is not the first time the Japanese Olympics have run into trouble. The 1940 Summer and Winter Olympics were supposed to take place in Japan but were canceled due to World War II.
It is not yet clear whether the athletes who have already secured their places in Tokyo will have to again qualify for the postponed Olympics..