Just Move the Summer Olympics to 2022


On Thursday it was reported the Japanese government has "privately concluded" the 2021 Summer Olympics set for Tokyo will have to be cancelled due to COVID-19. The government is hoping it can secure the 2032 Olympics as a consolation prize. If the Summer Games can't be held in 2021, the logical move won't be cancelling them, it would be moving them to 2022.

The Tokyo Olympics have already been delayed once, as they were supposed to occur in 2020 but had to be pushed back due to the global coronavirus pandemic. While the International Olympic Committee is still planning for the event to take place this summer, the host country apparently doesn't think it's going to happen.

Canceling the competition outright is an extreme overreaction to the situation. With vaccines rolling out and a better handle on the virus, the Olympics would likely be able to take place next summer in something approaching normal circumstances. Japan has already built much of the infrastructure for the games, so why not push things back?

Yes, the Winter Olympics are set for Beijing in early 2022, which could take some of the shine off the summer games happening a few months later, but until 1994, the Summer and Winter Games were held in the same year and on the same four-year cycles. They were split for the 1994 Winter Olympics to break them up and raise interest each time around. The IOC could double them up again for one year under extraordinary circumstances.

After holding the Tokyo Games in 2022, the IOC could then resume its regular schedule with the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Yes, that could throw off the timing of some scheduled international events (like world championships for various sports), but those schedules have virtually all been thrown off already due to COVID.

It's worth noting the 2022 summer schedule for international sporting events is also wide open. Normally the Olympics would have been battling for viewership against the 2022 World Cup, but the geniuses at FIFA elected to award the tournament to Qatar. Since the country's daytime temperatures during the summer months will be well in excess of 100 degrees, FIFA has moved the 2022 World Cup back to November. The tournament is now scheduled to begin on November 21 and conclude on December 18. That leaves all summer wide open for the Tokyo Olympics.

I get that pushing the games back another year is a headache for organizers, but canceling them would be as well. Tokyo earned the Summer Olympics and not getting the games until 2032 would be ridiculous. It would also ruin a four-year cycle of training for thousands of athletes who had pinpointed 2020, then 2021 as their peak year. It would be a crushing blow to so many who have dedicated their lives to training for the event.

Canceling the Tokyo Summer Olympics is an overreaction. The IOC and Japan should get on board with delaying them until 2022. It's the decision that makes the most sense.