It was perhaps inevitable that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be postponed, considering all that is happening around the world today, with governments shutting down borders along with public meeting places and limiting the movement of people because of the coronavirus, COVID-19.,
The Olympics were to be held this July, just four months from now. Last March 20, Japanese Olympic officials welcomed the arrival of the Olympic flame from Greece – where the modern Olympics began in 1896. A torch relay was scheduled to begin yesterday to carry the flame through all of Japan’s 47 prefectures for 121 days before it is used to light up the Olympic Cauldron at the Games site in Tokyo.
For weeks, various sports officials and athletes around the world had aired doubts and fears about a mass gathering like the Olympics when the whole world was locking down. The training programs of aspiring Olympic athletes were disrupted as gyms were closed. Our own pole vault champion E. J. Obiena had to leave his training quarters in Italy, which has already surpassed China in the number of coronavirus deaths.
Canada and Australia officially withdrew their teams, followed by the US Olympic Committee and World Athletes joining the gathering call for postponement. Finally last Tuesday, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe officially proposed what was on everybody’s mind – postponement of the Games. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach immediately agreed.
Since the modern Olympic Games began in 1896, there have been two times that they were cancelled. The 1916 Games in Berlin, Germany, were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War I. There was a move to also cancel the 1936 Games in Berlin because of the rise to power of the Nazis, but Hitler assured Jews would be allowed to compete, even with the German team.
The 1940 Games were to be held in London, England, but they were cancelled as World War II broke out. The Games finally resumed in 1948 in London, just two years after the war ended, with no new arenas or athletes quarters that they became known as the”Austerity Games.”
The Olympics have since been held every four years, with the athletes of all nations looking forward to completing in this greatest of all athletic competitions. Tokyo built a huge new stadium for these games and was ahead on all the preparations. Then the coronavirus began its deadly spread around the world, jumping from China to nearby Asian countries, to Europe, to the United States, and to the rest of the world.
There is yet no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, but the whole world hopes it will be over in a few months. The process of recovery will then begin and the Tokyo Olympics, it is hoped, can finally be held in 2021. It is a hope in which we all share.