5 Times the Olympic Games Were Canceled (& 6 Times They Almost Were)

Photo Courtesy: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images, Pierre de Coubertin/Wikimedia Commons

The first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896, and, since then, the Olympics have been held consistently with few exceptions. For many, the Olympic Games are a time for nations to put their differences aside and celebrate the success of their country’s most successful athletes. Sure, there are bragging rights and world records that come along with the Olympics, but the games are also an opportunity for one lucky city to host a global presence for several weeks in the summer or winter.

A lot of time and resources are spent preparing for the Olympics. Athletes spend a lifetime training and competing. Opening ceremonies require choreographing and intense planning. In most cases, entire stadiums need to be built, so the process often starts years before the event. Perhaps because of this, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) holds a theatrical mindset when it comes to their Olympic Games. For the IOC, the show must go on.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics became the 2021 Tokyo Olympics last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With cases of COVID-19 variants on the rise along — athletes and showrunners have already tested positive for the virus — many people,  especially residents of Tokyo and Japan are calling for the cancellation or further postponement of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Toshiro Muto, President of the Bank of Japan, recently gave a press conference stating that the Games can still be canceled last minute. The New York Times reported that 83% of Tokyo residents don’t even want to host the Olympics at this point. However, the leader of the IOC, Thomas Bach, has stated that canceling the Games was never an option and that the Games will be “safe and secure.” With this potential cancellation looming over our heads, we’re looking at five canceled Olympics and six Games that probably shouldn’t have been held.