Summer Olympics Postponed Until 2021

John Hill
24. March 2020
Rendering of Japan National Stadium designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates (Image courtesy of Japan Sports Council)

The International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee have announced that the Summer Olympics, scheduled to open in Tokyo in July, is being postponed to "not later than summer 2021" in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Everything was on schedule for this year's Olympics, with the high-profile and controversial stadium designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma having opened in December 2019. Kuma's firm was the second to win a competition for the stadium. Kengo Kuma and Associates was chosen to design the stadium in late 2015 after Japan dropped Zaha Hadid Architects, which had won a 2012 competition to design what was then called the New National Stadium; in those three years the cost of the stadium balloon to around 2 billion USD.

But then the novel coronavirus hit, leaping from China to Japan and the rest of the world in these first three months of 2020. COVID-19 hasn't affected Japan as badly as other countries (it's had only 900 confirmed cases between mid-January and mid-March, compared to 40,000 cases in Italy in a shorter timeframe), but with athletes and visitors set to converge on Japan from all over the world there was growing pressure to postpone or even cancel the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

While the Summer Olympics has been canceled three times (once in the First World War and twice in WWII), today's announcement marks the first time those Games will be postponed. Even with the Olympics taking place next year, the official name will remain Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

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