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2020 Olympics officially postponed due to coronavirus pandemic

Updated Mar 23rd, 2020 3:24PM EDT
2020 Olympics postponed
Image: Jae C Hong/AP/Shutterstock

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  • The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, set to begin on July 24th, have officially been postponed.
  • This is the first time in history that the Olympic Games have been postponed, although they have been canceled due to wars, including once during WW1 and twice during WWII.
  • The International Olympic Committee will make a decision about when the 2020 Olympics will take place in the next four weeks, but moving to 2021 seems likely.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

UPDATE | 3:22 PM: “It is the right of every [International Olympic Committee] member to interpret the decision of the IOC EB which was announced yesterday,” an IOC spokesperson told Vox shortly after Dick Pound seemed to confirm that the Games have been postponed. The original story follows below.

Every major event or gathering set to take place in the next few months has either been canceled or postponed, but there was one holdout that seemingly refused to accept reality: The Olympics. Athletes, coaches, and fans alike had all been waiting on the inevitable announcement from the committee, and after weeks of waiting, the announcement finally came on Monday, March 23rd. Speaking with USA Today, Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound confirmed that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed.

“On the basis of the information the IOC [International Olympic Committee] has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said in a phone interview with USA Today Sports. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

Pound has been the face of the committee throughout this process, and while nothing has been finalized yet, he says it’s likely the games will move to 2021, with details to come in the next four weeks. “It will come in stages,” he added. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

This revelation from Pound comes just hours after IOC President Thomas Bach said on Sunday that he had ruled out canceling the games altogether, but would be taking the next four weeks to decide what to do about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were originally scheduled to kick off on Friday, July 24th.

The viral outbreak has taken a heavy toll on the world of sports. In the United States, the first domino fell when an NBA player tested positive for the coronavirus on March 11th, at which point the entire NBA season was suspended indefinitely. Within the week, all spring sports had been canceled or suspended as well, including baseball, softball, and even the NCAA college basketball tournament. No major sports are left standing, although no cancellation or postponement will have as significant an impact as that of the Olympic Games.

As USA Today notes, this is the first time the Olympics have ever been suspended, though they have been canceled in wartime, including the 1916 Olympics during World War I, and the 1940 and 1944 Olympics during World War II. As such, it’s understandable that this committee did not want to be responsible for delaying the Olympics for the very first time unless it was completely necessary, but the writing was on the wall weeks ago.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.