With the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo officially postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be easy to assume that it’s not a big deal to simply put off the Games for another year.
Oh, how untrue that assumption would be.
It’s a huge deal to postpone the Games, from financial concerns and logistical nightmares to questions about how the competitions will be altered and which athletes will compete.
This is the first time the Olympics have ever been postponed.
Previous times the Olympics didn’t take place were outright cancellations due to World War I and World War II.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all trivial in the wake of the pandemic and the worldwide effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
The lives saved will be worth all the sacrifices, which there are a lot of, according to this Yahoo article.
A breakdown of where things stand:
Competitions, participating athletes will be impacted
There are several athletes who were eyeing 2020 as the final year in their sports careers before retirement, and the 2020 Olympics is what they were pointing to as their last chance at glory.
Do those athletes call it quits or commit to another year of training?
What about athletes who have been battling injuries? Would this be a major reprieve for them, knowing they have another year to prepare?
Would younger athletes who might not have been ready to make an Olympic team this summer now have the chance to try again in 2021 -- a year stronger mentally and physically -- possibly bumping a noted veteran off a team?
There is no way to quantify how drastically different the dynamics of Olympic teams in each nation will be in 2021 compared to how they would have looked in 2020.
But there’s no question -- it will be different on some level.
Quandary with facilities, Olympic Village
Arenas and other facilities that were booked for use by the Tokyo organizing committee will now have to be re-booked for 2021, which will displace other events scheduled to be held at those venues.
It’s usually a six-month process to reserve those facilities, given there’s a three-month lead in for security and installation purposes, and a deconstruction process when the Games are over.
The hassle of rescheduling is even worse when it comes to the Olympic Village, which houses athletes.
A complex built for the athletes was set to be remodeled into condos and apartments when the Olympics ended, and many of those units have already been sold, amid high demand.
Residents were supposed to move in around March 2023, but that timeline will have to be altered.
Financial hits galore
A reported $25 billion was projected to be spent on the Games by Japan, and that number assuredly will go up due to the increased costs of re-booking the venues, negotiating with the real estate company in charge of converting the Olympic Village, and paying organizing committee members another year of salary and other costs.
The International Olympic Committee could help with some of those costs, given the unprecedented situation, even though the contract with the host city typically puts a majority of the financial costs on the host.
Historically though, the IOC hasn’t been sympathetic at all to any financial plight of host cities.
It took Montreal 30 years to pay off the enormous debt of hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics.
The IOC hasn’t seemed to be bothered by the fact that venues and facilities in Athens, Beijing and Rio have been abandoned and left to rot once the Olympics held in those cities left town.
But this unprecedented crisis might motivate the IOC to show more compassion than it has in the past.
Sponsorship deals to athletes for competing in the Olympics and rights fees paid to TV networks will also be delayed a year.
Is 2021 a sure bet?
Health experts are optimistic a vaccine and/or therapies will be developed by 2021 to ensure COVID-19 isn’t an issue, but that remains a fluid situation.