Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!
Already a subscriber? Log In
On Tuesday, the news we've all anticipated finally dropped: there will be no Olympic Games in 2020. Given that many of us have been instructed to stay home for the foreseeable future and basically every sporting event has been either canceled or postponed, the IOC's announcement of the first ever Olympic postponement landed softly in this strange, new world.
Assuming normalcy will return again at some point in the near future, there is still reason for optimism as it pertains to the Olympic Games. While it's tempting to view these dire times strictly through a negative lens, I've come up with 10 reasons why the Olympic postponement to 2021 is actually a good thing.
1. A lot less people will get the coronavirus
As was pointed out by The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman on Monday, the concept of thousands of athletes from all over the world coming together for two weeks in an Olympic village and then heading back to their respective countries is one of the worst possible ideas during a global pandemic. Given the scale of the Olympic Games, there was a very real possibility of a worsening outbreak if the event went ahead as planned. Postponing was the only logical choice in that sense.
2. Athletes have more time to hit standards
Although the 2020 track season is basically gone at this point-- technically some Diamond League events could still happen later this summer-- the Olympic postponement will give athletes more time to chase the standards that they wouldn't have had otherwise. In the U.S., only three men have the 1500m standard (3:35.00), so now everyone should have another indoor season and possibly meets later this year in addition to the 2021 outdoor campaign
3. 2021 is shaping up to be epic year in the sport
If everything goes according to plan, which is a big if given the state of things, next year should be incredible for track and field. Not only will we have the Olympics, but world championships for indoor and cross country are on the docket as well.
4. No excuse not to be healthy
With no major events in 2020, athletes now have the luxury of scaling back their training in order to build volume and keep themselves healthy. Delaying the games is a huge bummer for those who were in the best shape of their lives, but on balance this is a boost to the sport as those who were rushing to get fit now have more than a year to recalibrate.
5. No off year in 2022
Once the track world clears the hurdle of this lost year, the subsequent half decade should feature five straight years of global championships with the Olympics in 2021, Eugene World Championships in 2022, Budapest World Championships in 2023, Paris Olympics in 2024 and a yet-to-be-determined World Championships in 2025. Silver linings!
6. Marathoners won’t have to choose between Olympics and majors
With Boston and London forced to push back their marathons until this fall, a summer Olympic Games would’ve made athletes choose between Tokyo and one of the five majors scheduled from September to November. Fields at each fall major are already going to be watered down given the close succession of Boston, Berlin, London, Chicago and New York, and staging the Olympics in August would have compounded the issue.
Additionally, the six Americans who finished top three at the U.S. Olympic Trials last month now get at least one marathon to tune-up before the Olympics. Appearance money, here they come.
7. Athletes will have a full slate of races to sharpen up
Aside from the immediate danger of hosting an Olympics during a pandemic, a lack of available track meets would have caused qualification issues were the games to go on as scheduled. The spring season had virtually been wiped out already, and the availability of races for athletes to run necessary marks were dwindling by the day. For U.S. athletes, Olympic Trials are necessary for selecting a team and that wasn’t going to be possible this year.
8. Canada will be there!
Some people thought the Canadians jumped the gun by stating on Sunday that their athletes would not be in Tokyo if the games were held this summer. Of course, it was more of a move to apply pressure rather than restrict their athletes, but anyhow, the postponement means Moh Ahmed, Justyn Knight and Gabriela Debues-Stafford won’t have to watch at home from the couch like the rest of us.
9. Every gold medalist gets another year to be a reigning Olympic champ
Admittedly, this is a small perk, and it’s limited only to those athletes who won gold in Rio. But I assume Matthew Centrowitz will enjoy an extra year as an Olympic champ, plus he now has a lot more time to figure out how to beat Timothy Cheruiyot.
10. The supposed Olympic curse in Japan will have lifted
The 2020 Tokyo Games may have been doomed from the start.
Japan’s Finance member says Japan has a 40 year Olympic curse. He may be right! 1940 they decided to forfeit the right to host due to war and the games were eventually cancelled. 1980 they joined the US led boycott of the Moscow Games. 2020???— Michael Johnson (@MJGold) March 22, 2020
On to 2021.