Blow as Tokyo Games put on hold, relief for athletes
THE Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to 2021, the first such delay in the event’s 124-year modern history, as the coronavirus crisis wrecked the last global sporting showpiece still standing this year.
Though a huge blow to Japan, which invested $12 billion (R211bn) in the run-up, the decision was a relief to thousands of athletes fretting over how to train as the world headed into lockdown to fight a disease that has claimed more than 17 260 lives.
Pressure had been building on the International Olympic Committee and its president, Thomas Bach, with some athletes and sporting bodies angry that a seemingly inevitable decision had taken so long.
After a call between Bach and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, both parties announced the July 24 to August 9 competition would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021.
“We and president Bach agreed that we keep co-operating with each other, so that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held in a complete form as proof that human beings have beaten the coronavirus,” Abe said.
Though it was the first Olympics’ postponement, they were cancelled outright three times during the two 20th-century world wars. Major Cold War boycotts also disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984.
In a crowded sporting calendar, which will be making up for this year’s cancellations, World Athletics said it was willing to move its world championships, scheduled for August 6 to 15, 2021, in Oregon, to clear a path for the Olympics.
The Athletics Association said a poll of more than 4 000 track and field competitors indicated 78% wanted the Games delayed. | Reuters