By: D. Westphalen
Amid a global pandemic, the IOC, International Olympic Committee, has decided to postpone the 2020 summer Olympics. It was officially announced on Tuesday (24th) that the event would be postponed to 2021, when Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had a conference call with the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach. The PM proposed to postpone the Olympics, and Bach "agreed 100%". This will be the first time in history that the Olympics will be postponed. The committee discussed pushing the games to fall 2020, but they were unsure of the pandemic's situation, so they chose to postpone it a full year. The games were only canceled three times before – 1916, 1940 & 1944, due to the first and second world war.
When the pandemic was starting to emerge in early January, the IOC intended on deciding when the competition would be held in May. However, in recent weeks, many nations, such as Canada, have been announcing they would not be sending any athletes, if the games were to proceed as normal. The IOC had already been receiving a lot of criticism and pressure from many athletes and their governments on how they were handling the COVID – 19 pandemic. In response to that, the IOC sent a letter to all athletes, telling them the decision would be made within 4 weeks. Many CEOs of national teams sent responses, suggesting they postpone the competition to 2021, as the athletes wouldn’t have time to train for this summer.
On the other hand, many athletes wanted the games to happen this summer, because for some of them, this might be their last shot. USA’s men’s basketball team is worrying whether certain athletes, such as LeBron James (35), Chris Paul (34) and Stephen Curry (32), three of the USA’s stars, might not be able to play next year, and urge that the games should be held this year. Also, Carli Lloyd, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time World Cup champion and USA’s national women’s football team #10, had announced that she would retire after the 2020 Olympics, but is now unsure if she will be able to compete in Tokyo. These are just a few of the many athletes that have been affected by the postponement.
On an economic viewpoint, the postponement won’t affect Japan's economy that much, as all the infrastructure had already been built and will just remain that way until 2021. Tourism also won’t be affected so much, as the virus is already cutting down all countries' tourism. However, the TV industry will be badly impacted. NBC has reportedly committed $12 billion to have a partnership with the IOC and broadcasting rights of the games, and they had hired 2,000 employees to go broadcast the event, now all these workers are out of jobs and unemployed. As the IOC did not specify when in 2021 the games will be held, it will be hard for the TV industry to profit as much from this Olympics, in comparison to recent years.
The decision to postpone the Olympics wasn’t entirely in the hands of IOC, the World Health Organization announced on Monday (23rd) that the virus is ‘accelerating’, and in nearly every country there has been at least one confirmed case. The WHO concluded that it would be best to postpone the games to later than 2020. The organizations involved in the Olympics, hope that the games can stand as a beacon of hope, in these difficult times, and that the ‘Olympic flames could become the light at the end of the tunnel.’