In the past few weeks, several sporting events have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The NBA, NHL and MLB have all suspended their respective seasons indefinitely, and the NCAA has canceled all of their winter championships as well as the entirety of the season for spring sports.
Now, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo joins the long list of events affected by the outbreak, as officials have announced the event is postponed until at least 2021. The postponement of the Olympic Games is a massive event with several ramifications for those involved.
Thousands of athletes from across the globe were scheduled to compete in this year’s Olympics, most of which have trained their entire lives to get to this point.
Unlike other leagues that have been canceled or postponed, the Olympics doesn’t happen every year, as it only takes place once every four years. There is a grueling qualification process in order to make it to the Olympics, and most athletes bet their financial futures on performing in the Olympic Games.
The postponement of the 2021 Olympic Games will have a drastic effect on their lives and their training, and for many athletes it could impact their ability to train and prepare for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.
The athletes aren’t the only ones who will be affected negatively by the postponement, as Japan’s economy will take a massive hit.
Thousands of visitors were expected to flock to Tokyo and other parts of Japan this summer, and tourism was supposed to be a huge boon for the local economy. These visitors were expected to come to Japan and spend money at local shops and businesses, boosting the local economy.
Japan invested several billion dollars into hosting the Olympics this year, and now the country will not see any returns on that investment until at least next year. Many businesses that were relying on the increase in tourism in order to stay afloat, likely won’t be able to survive until the games kick off next year.
The economic damage to Japan comes at a time when world markets are already crashing and failing due to uncertainty and lost productivity from social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
The economy is already in shambles, and the cancelation of a major event like the Olympics certainly won’t be a confidence booster for the markets.
The decision to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games wasn’t one that was taken lightly, as there was much deliberation about it. However, in the past few weeks pressure began to mount on the Olympic Committee to push back the games.
U.S. President Donald Trump had gone on record stating that the games should be delayed, and Canada even threatened to not participate if the games were still held at their normal time. Eventually, the Olympic Committee had to cede to demand and call off the games for the foreseeable future.
The event has rarely ever been postponed or canceled, as it only happens in times of extreme crisis or turmoil. The 1914 Olympic Games in Berlin were canceled due to the start of World War I, while the 1940 Helsinki Olympic Games and the 1944 London Olympic Games were both canceled due to World War II. These three games are the only times that the Olympic Summer Games have not gone on as planned.
Although the postponement of the Olympics is a drastic and unprecedented step to take, even the athletes believe it is a necessary one.
No one quite knows just how far the spread of COVID-19 will go or how long it will take to contain. Having thousands of people travel across the world and congregate in one area is a major public health risk given the state of the globe at this time.
Although the games were not slated to start until the summer, there’s no telling how long countries around the world will be grappling with COVID-19. As a result, the decision to cancel the event was ultimately viewed as a necessary precaution in order to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
Hopefully, COVID-19 is something that can be dealt with relatively swiftly, and the Olympic Games can return better than ever in 2021.