A virus rages, a flame goes out: the Tokyo Games are reset for 2021


Even the Summer Olympics couldn't resist the energy of the coronavirus. After weeks of protection, the IOC has taken the unprecedented step of suspending the world's greatest sporting occasion, a international extravagance that has been on the calendar for greater than a century.

The Tokyo Games, scheduled for 11,000 athletes from over 200 international locations and at a declared value of $ 28 billion, was scheduled to begin on July 24. They will now be postponed to 2021 at dates to be decided.

They will at all times be known as the 2020 Olympic Games – a symbolic gesture that, based on the International Olympic Committee, will enable the Games to "remain a glimmer of hope", as he mentioned in the assertion. announcement of the information Tuesday.

"I don't think anyone was really prepared for this virus," mentioned American sprinter Noah Lyles, who had been ready to be considered one of the world stars in Tokyo. "You look at the history of the Olympic Games and see that it was generally the war that prevented the Olympic Games from happening."

Only the First World War and the Second World War pressured the cancellation of the Olympic Games; they have been cleaned in 1916, 1940 and 1944.

Now, a microscopic virus that’s wreaking havoc in on a regular basis life round the planet, to say nothing of its sports activities program, has achieved what no different virus (Zika in 2016), act of terrorism (the homicide of Israelis in Munich in 1972), the boycott (1980 and 1984), the risk of conflict (frequent) or the actual world conflict itself succeeded in: suspending the video games and pushing them into a odd yr.

Quadruple Olympic hockey champion Hayley Wickenheiser, the first IOC member to criticize the group's long-standing refusal to vary dates, known as the postponement "a message that athletes deserve to hear" .

“To all athletes: breathe, come together, take care of yourself and your families. Your time will come, ”she wrote on Twitter.

When will or not it’s?

Nobody is aware of but. This is basically the purpose why the IOC refused to announce a postponement which was changing into increasingly inevitable with every passing day. Major sports activities organizations, together with World Athletics and the gymnastics, athletics and swimming federations in the United States, known as for a postponement. The similar goes for the important international locations, together with Canada, Brazil and Australia.

Even extra convincing, the athletes raised their voices. They have been speaking about the injustice of not having the ability to prepare, fearing that a journey exterior the house may put them, or somebody of their hometown, at risk. And what about their rivals, some residing on the different aspect of the world, who won’t have as many restrictions and will get a head begin? There was concern about the erosion of anti-doping protocols brought on by virus restrictions and qualification procedures that have been disintegrating earlier than their eyes.

"A bittersweet victory for the athletes," mentioned a group, Global Athlete, who known as the choice. "On the one hand, their Olympic dreams have been put on hold. On the other hand, athletes have shown their power when they work together as a collective. "

Under the management of IOC President Thomas Bach, the committee mentioned on Sunday that the announcement may take as much as 4 weeks. It took two days.

But make no mistake, there are nonetheless weeks of inauspicious planning forward.

Many arenas, stadiums and resorts in Tokyo are beneath contract for matches organized from July 24 to August 9. It is feasible to redo these preparations, however it’ll have a value. There are additionally concerns past the high-end price ticket. Among them: the billion {dollars} and extra that the IOC was to obtain from the broadcasting accomplice NBC; the thousands and thousands of small athlete sponsorship contracts that are now in limbo; the budgets of the numerous nationwide Olympic committees; the availability of the 80,000 volunteers who signed as much as assist.

"People have a hard time canceling weddings and canceling small tournaments, so imagine with all the billions of dollars that have been spent," five-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings advised The Associated Press. "They have a grieving process to do. They have so many moving parts to think about."

There can be the challenge of the worldwide sports activities calendar. Almost all 33 sports activities on the Olympic program have key occasions, together with world championships, on the calendar for 2021. Hayward Field at the University of Oregon has been rebuilt and enlarged at the value of about $ 200 million to host subsequent yr's world athletics championships. Now this occasion will seemingly be postponed.

"Of course there will be challenges," mentioned Paul Doyle, an agent who represents about 50 Olympic athletes. "At the same time, that's what had to happen."

He met at a assembly on Tuesday between Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a handful of different executives from the IOC and the Japanese organizing committee.

The torch relay was considered one of the first victims of the IOC's impeccably organized chronology. Organizers deliberate to begin the journey throughout the host nation in northeast Fukushima prefecture on Thursday, however with out followers or a torchbearer. Instead, the flame can be saved and displayed, with its subsequent motion to be decided later.

One of the lots of of inauspicious modifications that the IOC leaders must make in the weeks and months to come back.

But the most tough choice is behind them.

The unexpressed irony of all of it is that when Japan received the video games in 2013, it got here on the foundation of a marketing campaign wherein it positioned itself as "the safe pair of hands". . It was a time when the world was nonetheless popping out of the Great Recession, and the Olympic motion was significantly delicate to the uncontrollable bills that the Summer Games have been incurring.

Japan, like all the hosts earlier than it, struggled to remain inside funds. Nevertheless, seven years later, and with none fault on its half – the truth is, Japan is considered one of the international locations that appears to be avoiding the worst of coronaviruses – the folks of Tokyo are watching their massive plans for 2020 implode.

So by 2021. As far as the Olympic world – and maybe the world as a entire – he can not get right here quickly sufficient.


Also contributing: Stephen Wade and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Pat Graham in Denver, Paul Newberry in Atlanta, Graham Dunbar in Geneva, Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Jimmy Golen in Boston.


More AP sports activities: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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