Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer
After numerous phone conversations between the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the decision was made on March 24 to postpone the 2020 Olympics to the summer of 2021.
Prime Minister Abe spoke to NBC News regarding the difficult decision: “Considering the current situation, in regard to the Tokyo Games, as the host nation, in order to ensure that athletes from all over the world are able to compete in their best condition, and also in order to ensure the utmost safety for the spectators, I have asked the head of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, to consider postponing the games by about a year.”
The IOC announced on April 14 that the Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled for July 2021, with a start date of July 23. Despite being scheduled more than a year out, there is still the possibility of postponing it further, given the unknown nature of the COVID-19 epidemic. Right now, there is not a secondary measure, or “Plan B,” in place if the Tokyo Olympics need to be postponed even further.
Although the postponement has created a sense of relief among some members of the community, the process has not been cheap. The estimated cost of the postponement is expected to be between 2 and 6 billion dollars.
According to CBS Sports, “IOC President Thomas Bach has said that the IOC would absorb several hundred million dollars in added costs due to the postponement.”
In addition to those wasted funds for the IOC, Japan will be responsible for the majority of the expenses related to the postponement. This is detailed in the Home City Contract, an 81-page document which was signed in 2013 by the IOC, the city of Tokyo, and the Japanese Olympic Committee.
Furthermore, the 2020 Olympics postponement is expected to increase the cost of the games for future host countries. According to Forbes, “when Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in 2013, the bid committee projected total costs would be $7.3 billion. The cost estimate released March 25, anticipates $2.7 billion in addition to the $12.6 billion estimate recorded in Dec. 2019.”
However, this will not be the first time the Olympics have been canceled. The 1916 Olympics, which was set to be held in Berlin, was cancelled in 1914 because of World War I. This was the first time the Olympic Games had ever seen a cancellation since its creation in 1896.
After the end of the first World War, the Olympics were held every four years until the 1940 Olympic Games, which were also set to be held in Tokyo, Japan. This would have been the first time a non-Western country would host the Olympics. Unfortunately, the games were postponed when Japan went to war with China in 1937 and had to forfeit their hosting rights.
According to the History Network, “The 1940 games were initially rebooked for Helsinki, Finland in the summer and the German town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in winter, but finally cancelled in 1939 with Hitler’s invasion of Poland.”
The most recent time the Olympics were cancelled was during 1940, where they were cancelled twice because of the ongoing fight during World War II. One time when the 1940 summer games were set to be held in London, England and a second time when the winter games were set to be held in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.