International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says the delayed Tokyo Games will be “the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel”
-NH Sports Desk,New Delhi
The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to 2021, the first such delay in the Games’ 124-year modern history, as the coronavirus crisis wrecked the last international sporting showpiece still standing this year.
Though a huge blow to Japan, which has invested $20 billion in the run-up, the decision was a relief to thousands of athletes fretting over how to train as the world headed into lockdown to fight a disease that has claimed more than 16,500 lives.
Pressure had been building on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president, Thomas Bach, with some athletes and sporting bodies angry that a seemingly inevitable decision had taken so long.
After a call between Bach and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, both parties said the July 24-August 9 Games would be moved to the summer of 2021, to be a celebration of triumph over the coronavirus.
The Olympic flame, already lit at Olympia in Greece and carried around Japan in a now-cancelled torch relay, would stay in the host nation until then as a symbol of hope.
“This Olympic flame will be the light at the end of this tunnel,” Mr Bach said.
An “unprecedented challenge for mankind” had inevitably led to an unprecedented challenge for the Games, he added.
Though it was the first Olympics’ postponement, they were cancelled outright three times during the two 20th century World Wars. Major Cold War boycotts also disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984.