The Olympic Games is a sporting phenomenon that only comes around once every four years. The 2020 Summer games were set to be held in Tokyo, Japan, but have been postponed to 2021 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, according to the International Olympic Committee.
Postponing the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games comes during a very strange time for the whole world as at least 171 countries are trying to combat the COVID-19 pandemic that has halted economic, social and sports activities.
The games were set to begin July 24 and the Olympic Flame had already been delivered to its host city of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) originally said a deadline of four weeks was set to make a final decision about the status of the games this year.
However, the decision came much quicker with growing pressure being put on them by other Olympic committees and the athletes that wanted to know when they would be competing for their countries.
All of the athletes who have already qualified for the games will have guaranteed spots when they take place in 2021, even if someone better qualifies in the meantime.
If an athlete barely qualified this time around, they now have a whole year to train and potentially perform better in competition. On the flip side, some athletes have already trained to peak athletic capability for the games this year and could potentially see a decline in their performance with the year long delay.
If the games were to still be held this year, countries such as Canada and Australia said they would not be sending teams to compete. Given the current state of the world, more countries could have followed the same path as them if a decision was not made.
The last time Tokyo had an interruption of the Games was in 1940 when the break out of World War II caused them to be cancelled that year. The Japanese capital hosted its last Olympic Games in the summer of 1964.
In a statement on their website, the IOC announced they planned to keep the games in Japan despite the delay.
“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,” the IOC said in a statement. “Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan”.
Utica College professor Paul MacArthur said he believes the IOC made the right decision when it came to postponing the games this year.
“I believe postponing the games was the right thing to do, especially when some countries were already backing out,” MacArthur said. “I just wish they came to that decision a little quicker.”
However, MacArthur said he agreed with the IOC when they said that the games could be “the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“At its finest, The Olympic Games are a great celebration,” MacArthur said. “When we recover from this pandemic, they have the potential to be a positive and unifying event for the world.”