I.O.C. and Japan Agree to Postpone Tokyo Olympics
A week ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, were promoting the Summer Olympics in Tokyo as the balm the world needed to show victory over the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, the virus won out.
Bach and Abe bowed to a groundswell of resistance — from athletes, from sports federations, from national Olympic committees, from health experts — and formally postponed the Games, which had been scheduled to begin in late July, until 2021.
The decision became all but inevitable after the national Olympic committee in Canada announced on Sunday that it was withdrawing from the Games, and Australia’s committee told its athletes that it was not possible to train under the widespread restrictions in place to control the virus.
At a time when Japan’s economy is already stumbling, the delay of the Olympics could deal a serious blow. In a report early this month, Nikko Securities projected that a cancellation of the Games would erase 1.4 percent of Japan’s economic output.
The complications will ripple beyond the Games themselves. The international governing bodies for track and field and swimming, for example, planned to hold world championships in 2021 and will have to work with their athletes and host cities to possibly reschedule those events.