Have the Summer Olympics ever been cancelled? A look back at history as dark clouds hover over 2020 Tokyo Games

Edited By: Subhayan Chakraborty WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Updated: Mar 24, 2020, 04:11 PM(IST)

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But have the Summer Olympics been postponed or cancelled any time in the past as well? The answer is yes. The Summer Olympics have been postponed as many as three times in the past. Here's a look back at history. 

The pressure is mounting on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics given the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While Canada and Australia have already warned the IOC that they will be not sending their athletes to the Games, Hugh Robertson, the head of the British Olympic Association, has also said: "If the virus continues as predicted by the Government, I don't think there is any way we can send a team."

On Monday, a highly influential member of IOC, Richard Pound had said that the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been decided and an official announcement could be made soon.

“On the basis of the information, the IOC has, the postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know,” Pound told a leading American daily while adding, “it will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

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But have the Summer Olympics been cancelled any time in the past as well? The answer is yes. The Summer Olympics have been cancelled as many as three times in the past. 

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What led to the cancellation of the Summer Olympics in past?

The first cancellation of Summer Olympics happened in 1916, which were scheduled to be hosted by Berlin. The Games had to be cancelled due to World War I and Berlin had to wait for another 20 years to host the quadrennial event again.

The 1940 Summer Olympics in Helsinki and 1944 Summer Olympics in London were cancelled due to the World War II. The outbreak of World War II after the invasion of Poland by the Nazi led to the events to be completely cancelled. Furthermore, World War II also led to the complete cancellation of the Winter Olympics in 1940 and 1944.

In 2016 Rio Olympics, there were major concerns surrounding the outbreak of mosquito-borne ‘Zika’ virus but the Games were held as per the schedule. However, some of the athletes had decided to boycott the Games.

While the current scenario due to the deadly COVID-19 is not at all ideal for 2020 Tokyo Olympics to go ahead as planned, an official verdict on the quadrennial event is expected soon from the International Olympic Association (IOC). 


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