Along with many other sporting events across both the United States and the world, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan have officially been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In America, every major sporting organization has postponed their games and events, waiting until the pandemic begins to slow down until they resume operations.
For a while, the expectation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was that the Olympics would go on as planned from late July to early August of this year. But, with the growing number of cases, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), officially announced the event would be postponed until July 2021.
One of the biggest tipping points for the Olympics was similar to the cancellation of the NCAA College Basketball Tournaments, better known as March Madness.
Before it was canceled and as it grew closer, Duke University, one of the projected top teams in the tournament, announced that their team would not participate even if the games were held without fans.
March Madness was eventually canceled soon after the NBA announced that they would postpone their season, and Duke pulling out of the tournament was a major tipping point for the NCAA.
Similarly for the Olympics, Canada and Australia both came out to say they would not send their athletes to Tokyo for the Olympics. This started to force the IOC to further consider postponing the event.
Fans from all over the world will have to wait an extra year to see the best athletes of their countries compete against each other in Tokyo.
The Olympics is one of the largest worldwide sporting events and it has only been canceled three times since the 1900s: once in 1916 for World War I and twice between 1940 and 1944 for World War II.
This is certainly unprecedented, but the Olympics did not decide to cancel the events fully, which is key to understanding the next steps the IOC wants to take.
Pushing it back a full year allows the committee to spend time watching how the pandemic either grows or slows down over time. It also lowers risk for both fans and athletes in attendance in Tokyo of potentially spreading the virus while they are there and sending it back to their countries all over the world.
For the athletes that train for most of the four-year break to get ready for the Summer Olympics, this could be tough news.
However, according to Yahoo Sports, the nearly 6,000 athletes that have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics will still be able to participate in 2021.
It may be strange to see the Summer Olympics happen during an odd-numbered year, but the event not being canceled is a good sign for fans.
The expectation is to still have all of the games fully played — just one year later. It is not expected to have any impact on the date of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, meaning that there will be a three-year hiatus for the 2024 Summer Games and three Olympic events in four years, including the Winter Olympics in 2022.
With how quickly the COVID-19 is spreading, the IOC made the strong decision to postpone an event that almost always happens, regardless of the circumstances.
Instead, Tokyo and fans around the world have an extra year to wait for the famous Summer Olympic Games.