The 2020 Olympic Games, originally scheduled to begin on July 24 in Tokyo, are now being postponed to an as-yet-undisclosed later date and will not take place until 2021.
This decision comes on the heels of pressure from Canada, Australia, and the U.S. to cancel the event. This is the first time the Olympic Games have ever been postponed, although the international sporting event has been canceled on three occasions, all during times of war. Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee, made the announcement early on Monday, saying: “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know”. The IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee did not echo that decision officially until Tuesday.
This is not the first major sporting event to be postponed or canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus—the N.B.A. and Major League Soccer have suspended their seasons, and the French Open has been postponed until September 20—but the postponement of the Olympic Games, which have been consistently held in peacetime for over a century, highlights the scale of this pandemic.
While this is undoubtedly painful news for the many Olympic athletes who have trained several years for the meet, some chose to respond to the news with optimism; Dutch track and field athlete Dafne Schippers, who won silver at the 2016 Summer Olympics, tweeted her support for the decision on Tuesday, writing, “Whatever it takes to beat the corona virus. Let’s hope for the best and let’s make sure we’ll celebrate even harder next year!”