Note: The headline has been adjusted to reflect current developments. The article was originally posted on 3/23/20 at 11:17 A.M., CST. - Ed.
Hey, remember when Greece passed along the official flame to Japan just last Friday? It turns out that the whole ceremony was probably a little premature: Per Variety, the International Olympic Committee is currently considering alternative options that “relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games.” It’s a pretty lengthy way of saying “we might have to go they way of just about everything else since this coronavirus thing started ruining everything,” but the development doesn’t sound nearly as confident as the group sounded just days ago.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo also directly acknowledged the looming issue for the first time, citing the possibility of postponing the event “if it is difficult to hold the games in such a way,” but also emphasizing that both he and the IOC agree that “cancellation is not an option.” This is a notable tonal change from just last week, when officials expressed a commitment to the original July 24 start date. Since that time, however, Canada has already made the decision to pull out of any potentially existing summer games, and certain qualifying events have been canceled throughout the month since the pandemic has spread.
It’s going to take some serious elbow grease to shift an all-consuming cultural event like the Summer Olympics, with the availability of venues and quickly crowded airtime throwing potential wrenches in the mix. But the IOC is going to “take the month” to assess the situation and then make a decision. We’ll update you as soon as they have the final word. In the meantime, we can always turn to marble races and professional stone skipping, right?
UPDATE, 1:18 P.M.: And just as we promised, here is the official word, courtesy of USA Today. Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound has confirmed that 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have been postponed.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
The games will likely take place in 2021, according to USA Today: “[The new plan] will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
UPDATE, 3/24/20 @ 7:56 A.M.: Per Deadline, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that the Olympic Games will be postponed by one year. After investing over $10 billion into the event, the Games will now take place during the summer of 2021.
UPDATE, 3/29/20 @ 7:34 A.M.: The Tokyo Summer Olympics officially has a new date. Per The New York Times, the Games will return July 23, 2021 and will run through August 8. The IOC and Tokyo’s committee spent the weekend deciding on the best time of year to reschedule and ultimately decided to stage the event during a similar time to avoid competition with other major sporting events. “I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Japanese government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge,” Thomas Bach, IOC President, said in a statement on Monday.