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What does postponement of Games mean for athletes and Japan?


IOC President Thomas Bach. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

IOC President Thomas Bach. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire


IOC President Thomas Bach. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have become the first Games in modern history to be postponed for anything other than a World War.

Here is what the decision will mean for the city, the athletes, and the enormous financial and logistical implications on the sporting calendar.

Didn't the IOC say it would delay any decision?

Whilst International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and the Japanese government maintained the Games would go ahead as scheduled, others suggested they would be forced to make a decision by the end of May. However, the unimpeded spread of the virus, coupled with the crucial interventions of athletes and national federations who stressed the need for clarity, finally prompted them to act.

When will the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics take place?

Officials have already indicated they will be re-arranged for "no later" than the summer of 2021. This does not rule out the intriguing prospect of staging the Games in the midst of Japan's enormously popular cherry blossom season, next March or April. However, it remains much more likely that the Games will be pushed back more or less exactly a year, to take place over an equivalent period in July/August.

What are the financial and logistical implications of the decision?

The total cost of the Tokyo Olympics has been put at almost €11 billion, and there were projections that an outright cancellation could cause the shrinking of Japan's GDP by 1.5 per cent. Clearly, this potential impact has been mitigated by the postponement, but it will still cause major disruption to finances and planning.

Is there a precedent for postponement?

Only three summer Olympics have been cancelled outright, all due to World Wars. Berlin did not take place in 1916, and Tokyo relinquished its right to host the 1940 Games, which was temporarily moved to Helsinki before it was cancelled outright. The 1944 Games, due to take place in London, were also called off.

How will it affect the sporting calendar?

It will cause chaos. Assuming the rearranged Games take place in July/August, they will clash with - among many others - the 2021 World Athletics Championships, scheduled for Eugene in the United States, and the World Swimming Championships, set for Fukuoka. The subsequent knock-on effect could be huge.

Irish Independent