Summer Olympics rescheduled to begin July 23, 2021

Olympic rings monument at Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Tokyo. (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games have been rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8, 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Tokyo Organizing Committee and Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced Monday morning.

Originally scheduled for this summer — from July 24-Aug. 8 — the 2020 Tokyo Games were postponed due to the outbreak of coronavirus, as announced last week.

“These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organization of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the IOC said in a statement. “The new dates, exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020 also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum, in the interests of the athletes and the IFs. Additionally, they will provide sufficient time to finish the qualification process. The same heat mitigation measures as planned for 2020 will be implemented.”

Before the Games were put on hold, roughly 6,200 athletes qualified for the Olympics. That’s over half of the estimated 11,000-athlete field that will take part in the 32nd Olympiad.

The decision to postpone the Games last Tuesday was a quick turn of heel for the organizers.

As recently as March 18, Japan’s top spokesman and chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, claimed that there were no plans to postpone the Olympics.

Just four days later, the IOC administered a four-week deadline period to decide whether or not the Games would be postponed. It took less than 48 hours for the postponement to become official.

It was the latest major sports organization to postpone its play following the mass stoppages of other prominent leagues such as Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL and NCAA. But this was first time ever that the Olympic Games — the largest sporting event in the world — would be postponed in the modern era; another sizable hit to an athletic community that has suffered mightily in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A rescheduled date at least provides solace that the Games will go on for the athletes realizing a dream of competing and the millions of fans the Summer Olympics captivate every four years.

“With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel.”

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