Coronavirus: Other times the Olympics have been postponed or canceled

International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today on Monday that the 2020 Tokyo Games will likely be pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the games just a few months away and not enough progress made with tackling the outbreak, this was a long time coming, especially after Canada and Australia both announced they would not be sending their athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know… We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.” 

The Olympics are of course a major production to put on. Athletes, fans, broadcasters and workers come from all over the world for the event. The Olympics have been interrupted before, but rarely have they been postponed or canceled. Here’s a look at those occasions.

1916 Summer Olympics 

These games were canceled because of World War I. They were scheduled to be held in Berlin. The war began in 1914 and lasted until the winter of 1918. Berlin eventually got to host the Summer Games in 1936, which were the last games to be played before the start of World War II. 

The 1940 Summer and Winter Olympics

Both were called off due to World War II. The summer games were scheduled to take place in Tokyo. They were rescheduled for Helsinki, Finland, but then eventually canceled altogether. The Winter Olympics were set for Sapporo, Japan but moved because of the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. They were eventually set to take place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany but the second world war caused the cancellation of the games entirely.

The 1944 Summer and Winter Olympics

World War II lasted long enough that is also caused the cancellation of the 1944 Games. London won the bid for the Summer Games, while Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy was awarded the Winter Games. Neither got to host in that elected year due to the war. Cortina d’Ampezzo eventually hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics. 

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