Thanks to the spread of the new coronavirus, a long list of major events have been canceled, from this year’s NBA season to the Tonys. But none was as emblematic of the disease’s global effect as the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.
The Games were originally scheduled to be held on July 24, but on Monday, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board announced that they would now be held from July 23 through August 8, 2021. The Games will still take place in Tokyo, with Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, saying, “The consensus was that staging the rescheduled Games during the summer vacation in Japan would be preferable.”
Although the Games won’t take place until next calendar year, they will continue to be referred to as the “2020 Olympic Games” to avoid confusion in subsequent years. This constitutes the first postponement in Olympic history, although there were five occasions that the Games were simply canceled, with all taking place during wartime.
“These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organization of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the IOC said in a statement.
Four-time Olympic kayaker and current member of Canadian Parliament Adam van Koeverden called the decision to reschedule “appropriate, brave, and well timed,” explaining that holding the Games in the midst of a global pandemic would have been “untenable…it was impossible for [the Canadian Olympic Committee] to continue to encourage athletes to prepare, and it became unfair.”