Tokyo 2020 Summer Games Postponed
Amidst growing focus on the global containment strategy for the covid-19 pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has officially announced on March 24th to postpone the Tokyo Summer Games to 2021. In a special press conference today, IOC president Thomas Bach shared that the decision was made together with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee. Bach assured that as a symbol of commitment and hope, the Olympic flame will remain in Japan. Also, the name of the event will continue to be ‘Olympic Games Tokyo 2020’ instead of 2021 for symbolic reasons.
International Paralympic Committee President Reacts
Reacting in support of the decision, the International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, pictured below, voiced his support. “The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority. Sport is not the most important thing right now.” Parsons also shared, “When the Paralympic Games do happen in Tokyo next year, they will be a spectacular global celebration of humanity coming together again as one. The Paralympic Movement is based on people overcoming adversity, and this is what we will do next year.” To hear his full statement by video, click the image below.
In the coming days and weeks, the IOC, Organizing Committee, and Coordination Commission among other stakeholders will get to work on the logistics of the postponement. No new date has been shared as of yet. This will be no easy task, as Bach calls this a jigsaw puzzle and claims “the Olympic Games is the most complex event in the world.” Although this will be difficult, Bach voices hope that when the event does happen, “the Olympic flame can really become the light at the end of this dark tunnel the world is going through together at this moment.”
Athletes Share Their Thoughts
Athletes are of course sharing their thoughts and support after the announcement. “First, we have a more important fight to win,” shared 2x Olympic super-heavyweight judo champion Teddy Riner about the fight against the pandemic. World heptathlon champion Katerina Johnson-Thompson also voiced her opinion. “As an athlete, it’s heartbreaking news…but it’s for all the right reasons and the safety of everyone!” Other athletes made comments about the effects of getting a year older and having to extend training, but were still overwhelmingly positive.
Adding more positivity to the conversation is three time Paralympic gold medalist Alana Nichols: “To all the athletes now training for the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics and Olympics…here’s to diggin deep and to training in isolation while no one is watching…You’ll be grateful for this unexpected obstacle/challenge one day…Just know #teamusa is behind you and we are already EXTRA proud of you for putting your head down and continuing to do work!”
Alana Nichols, a gold medalist Paralympian, is an advocate for adding surfing to the 2024 Paralympics