Olympics Are Postponed

The 2020 Olympics will be held in 2021.

Jim Rome
March 24, 2020 - 9:51 am
2021 Olympics

USA Today


The hints started yesterday in an interview that a long-time International Olympic Committee member did with USA Today. The member in question told the paper that "On the basis of the information the IOC has, 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."

But for some reason, whenever this particular, extremely well respected IOC member speaks, people get lost in the sauce. They forget about what he is saying and they just focus on his name.

Yes, he has an interesting name. I know. I'm aware. I’ve heard his name before. He’s one of the most respected figures in international athletics. He was an Olympic swimmer. He’s a five-time Canadian national champion. He’s four-time medalist at the Commonwealth Games. He helped found the World Anti-Doping Agency. Time Magazine hailed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

When he speaks, you should listen. And yet all anyone wants to do is laugh about his name.

His name is Richard William Duncan Pound. He goes by Dick Pound.

Got it. Hilarious. Get over it, you second-graders.

And yes, I know his birth name is Richard. And he could go by Richard. Or Rick. Or Rich. Or Ricky. Or Richie. But he doesn't. And? What’s your point?

This isn’t news. The guy is in the news at least every two years when there’s an Olympics and usually more than that, and yet every time, people react like it’s the first time they’ve ever heard of the guy. Every time, people bust a stitch laughing about his name. If he speaks to the media, he'll trend on twitter and every tweet will be someone cracking up over his name. Grow up. Get over it. 

And yes, I’m sure he’s aware that you’re all laughing and I’m sure he doesn’t care. That’s what a badass he is. 

But this isn’t about some guy’s name, this is about the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and the fact that Mr. Pound was giving the hint yesterday and today it became official.

The IOC released a statement a few hours ago that read in part: In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the W.H.O. today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

And there you have it. Finally. The 2020 Olympics will be held in 2021.

Good. It was the right call. It’s a no-brainer. A truly and thoroughly complicated no-brainer, but a no-brainer nonetheless.

Unlike a regular professional sports league, postponing the Olympics is not as simple as just suspending things for a few months and then picking it up later. This isn’t something where you start a phone tree, get the word out to everyone, and then meet up in the park for a rescheduled Olympics a few months later.

The Olympic Games are on a whole different scale. According to USA Today, the operating budget for these Olympics is already closing in on 13 billion dollars. It is a massive endeavor and doing anything that changes it, is a massive endeavor.

It’s not like the Lakers or Clippers playing at Staples and they just need to make sure that the arena is free into July, August, and maybe later, so that they can play their games.

In the case of the Olympics, it’s not just a matter of will the arena be free in 2021, in some cases, the arenas are not supposed to exist in 2021.

Some of the Olympic venues are effectively pop-ups that get taken down after the games or they’re scheduled to be converted into something else. Now you have to decide if they’ll stay up for a year longer or take them down and put them back up in a year. The Olympic village was to be converted into apartments after the games and some of those units were already sold.

And that’s before we get into all of the other competitions around the globe, like the 2021 World Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, that will now be thrown off or eliminated because the Olympics is moving a year later.

How does that work now? That’s what they’re going to have to figure out, and that’s why they’ve been a lot slower than regular professional leagues to make the move. Because they were probably hoping that it wouldn’t have to come to this, but it did.

There was no way they could go ahead with the Olympics this summer. Countless athletes in countless countries have had their training impacted by coronavirus and had no idea when they would be able to get back to regular training. Schedules for Olympic trials have been thrown off.

Preparing for the Olympics, either as the host country or as an athlete is never easy, and it’s even more challenging in the face of a global pandemic.

But even if you could sort out all the training and all the Olympic trials and you could get everyone safely to Tokyo for the Games, then you have the matter of the games themselves.

And the fact that you would be gathering thousands of people from around the world in the same spot for a couple of weeks in the summer during a global pandemic would be one of the most absurd and dangerous things ever.

I've said it before and I will say it again, the moral of the story is: when Mr. Pound speaks, you should listen.

It will be a logistical nightmare to not hold them as scheduled, but much better than the actual nightmare of holding them as scheduled. The Olympics make the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB look nimble by comparison. Those massive sports leagues are like speedboats compared to the Olympics. Postponing the games will be like turning around the Titanic, but going ahead with them would be like letting the Titanic steam right into the iceberg.