(Updated on March 24) It’s now official. The Olympic Games will not be held in Tokyo this summer. A joint statement made by the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, said that they will have to be rescheduled “to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
Whatever the new dates that will be set, the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. They were due to take place in the Japanese capital from July 24 to Aug. 9, but the Japanese government took additional border security measures because of the disease.
The IOC was originally expected to take a decision in the matter in four weeks’ time, but the two parties decided to act immediately as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the Covid-19 pandemic is “accelerating.” There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour, the March 24 statement noted.
The international governing bodies for swimming and track & field had already proposed the one-year delay, followed by the International Federation of Sports Climbing. The postponement of the Games will create huge problems in the area of sports marketing, adding to those already caused by the cancellation of the NBA tournament and other major nternational competitions.
Many other sporting events that were going to take place before the Olympics in the U.S. and Europe have been cancelled, including most recently the final of the World Ski Cup in Italy. Uefa announced on May 17 that the big Euro 2020 football tournament will only take place next year, creating a possible conflict with other events. It was due to start in Rome on June 12 - evidently too soon considering the vast containment efforts being undertaken there and in the rest of Europe.The European championships will be played instead next year, from June 11 to July 11, 2021. Conmebol, the South American Football Confederation, had already announced the postponement of this year’s Copa America to 2021.
On March 23, Uefa has postponed the finals of the Champions League and the Women’s Champions League as well as the Uefa Europa League, which were all schdduled for May 2020, without announcing the new dates. It will keep fans entertained with classic match re-runs on the Uefa.tv app.
The Roland Garros tennis tournament in Paris, one of the most important events of the global sports calendar, has been postponed to Sept. 20 to Oct. 4, instead of May 24 to June 7. The new schedule places the Grand Slam tournament right after the U.S. Open, which is currently set to take place in New York from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13. The only years in its history in which Roland Garros was not contested were those during the two World Wars. Another important tournament in the tennis season, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, had already announced its postponement on March 8 because of Covid-19.
Also, the London Marathon has been rescheduled in connection with the coronavirus outbreak. The 40th edition of the race is now set to take place on Oct. 4, 2020. The organizers have said that the runners who cannot take part in October this year can defer their participation until the 2021 edition, which is currently scheduled for April 25 of that year, or can have their entry fee refunded. These runners may, if they wish, also decide to donate their fee to the London Marathon Charitable Foundation.