From when COVID 19 began to gain traction in China, to now, when it has spread all across the world, countries’ top athletes watched warily, knowing it could impact the future of their respective sports. The likelihood of seasons and tournaments being canceled grew by the day. College basketball has been put on hold, and fans can only hope the pandemic will be over before football season starts.
This week it was announced that the pinnacle of the sports world, the Olympic Games, will be set back to July of next year. While the Olympics have been canceled in the past due to the occasional world war, this is the first time in history they have been postponed. Not only does the change in date impact the athletes that are competing to qualify for the Games, it also derails the intense preparation the host city Tokyo, Japan has put into the tournament. The thousands of volunteers, along with the thousands of people planning to spectate, now find themselves obsolete.
For some athletes, especially those older than many of their competitors, the extra year wait marks the difference between an Olympic medal and a failure to qualify. The year leading up to the Games is filled with an intense training schedule that will now have to be prolonged.
Despite these issues, the decision not to hold the Games in 2020 has been uncontroversial. Athletes, officials, and civilians alike recognize the dangers of the large crowds and tourism that occur during the tournaments. Japan has seen its fair share of coronavirus cases, and athletes’ training has been derailed by gym closures around the world. People involved in organizing the Olympics even saw the announcement as a bit of a relief after months of uncertainty regarding its future.
As far as what that future is exactly, even now we only know so much. The Olympics next year remain in Tokyo, and will continue to be referred to as “The 2020 Tokyo Olympics”. We can foresee that some confusion may ensue regarding that title remaining constant, but it shouldn’t be anything unmanageable.
Now Olympic fans can only hope that we aren’t still stuck inside during the summer months, as the Games were our only hope for quality entertainment at that time. Worse would be if this coronavirus situation becomes an annual, seasonal occurrence, and the games are postponed indefinitely. Social isolation certainly leads to one imagining very scary scenarios.