Olympic can­cel­la­tions

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CORONAVIRU­S -

With more and more calls to post­pone the Tokyo Olympics be­cause of the coron­avirus out­break, it’s worth not­ing that this ev­ery-four-years spec­ta­cle has been rocked be­fore by trau­matic events. Three other times, the games were can­celed al­to­gether be­cause of World War I (1916) and World War II (1940 and 1944) — and in those lat­ter two qua­dren­ni­als, both the Sum­mer and Win­ter Games were shelved. A look at the Olympic Games that never were:


Ber­lin was set to host the 1916 Sum­mer Olympics (the Win­ter Games weren’t founded until 1924), beat­ing bids from Alexan­dria, Am­s­ter­dam, Brus­sels, Bu­dapest and Cleve­land, ac­cord­ing to GamesBids.com.

The Ger­man Em­pire even con­structed a daz­zling new fa­cil­ity to serve as the cen­ter­piece of the games. Known as Deutsches Sta­dion, it opened well ahead of the games in 1913.

After the First World War erupted in July 1914, prepa­ra­tions car­ried on for a while since no one ex­pected the hos­til­i­ties to last another two years. But the hor­rific war lasted until 1918, even­tu­ally forc­ing the Olympics to be can­celed.


In an era when the se­lected na­tion got the op­tion of host­ing both the Sum­mer and Win­ter Games in the same year, Ja­pan was a sur­pris­ing choice as the first non-Western coun­try to be awarded the Olympics. Tokyo was to be the sum­mer host, with Sap­poro get­ting the win­ter ver­sion.

Again, war got in the way. After World War II erupted in Septem­ber 1939 with Ger­many’s in­va­sion of Poland, the Olympics were can­celed al­to­gether. Tokyo would even­tu­ally get a chance to host the Sum­mer Games in 1964 — still the first Asian city to re­ceive the honor — while Sap­poro landed the 1972 Win­ter Games.


Shortly be­fore the out­break of World War II, and after all that scram­bling to find re­place­ment hosts for 1940, the IOC awarded Lon­don the 1944 Sum­mer Games in bal­lot­ing that also in­cluded Athens, Bu­dapest, Detroit, Helsinki, Lausanne, Mon­treal and Rome.

With Eng­land not a fea­si­ble host for the Win­ter Games, that event was awarded to Cortina d’Am­pezzo, Italy.

The 1944 Olympics never had a chance. World War II dragged on until the fol­low­ing year.

Lon­don would then be awarded the 1948 Sum­mer Games, the first in a dozen years and staged in aus­tere con­di­tions as the city con­tin­ued to re­cover from the war.

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