Tokyo 2020 Is Now Tokyo 2021: How Will Postponing the Olympics Impact Athletes and Japan?
Since the first modern Olympic Games, which were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896, the competition has only been canceled three times — once in 1916 during World War I and twice in the 1940s during World War II. Amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government announced the postponement of the Summer Games back in March — not a cancellation but still something unprecedented.
While the decision to move the Games is, undoubtedly, a wise one, there will also be some far-reaching consequences, not just for the Japanese economy and sponsors, but for the athletes who trained so hard for the chance to compete. Let’s take a look at the potential fallout.
How Does the Postponement Compare to Olympics of the Past?
In the photograph below, Japanese fencer Ryo Miyake trains with a foil in downtown Tokyo, despite the postponement of the 2020 Games. In between training sessions, the would-be Olympian hops on his bicycle and delivers food for Tokyo’s UberEats. Without a doubt, it’s not the pre-Olympic life Miyake imagined for himself. In a pandemic-free world, with the Games a month and a half off, he’d probably be dedicating all his time and energy to fencing. Like Miyake, so many athletes from around the world have seen their Olympic dreams derailed. Sure, there’s the chance to go for gold next summer, but for many, that’s easier said than done.
How Will Postponing the Olympics Impact Athletes?
News outlets have deemed the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games to be a logistical nightmare. So much time goes into planning the schedule of events, coordinating the creation and revamping of infrastructure, and marketing the Games and making merchandise and other time-sensitive materials. And, of course, all those factors also have an astronomical price-tag for the host city. Notoriously, very few hosts actually profit from holding the Games.
What Do We Know About the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics?
Before the pandemic hit, a reported 57% of Olympic spots had been accounted for, but at the time of the postponement news, the IOC hadn’t clarified whether or not those athletes would automatically qualify for 2021. Obviously, athletes like American weightlifter Katherine Nye spoke out on Twitter and other platforms to voice their concerns — they more than earned those spots.