The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were due to begin on 24th July this year. However, this biggest sporting event in the world has been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic: they will now be held from 23rd July to 8th August 2022. Did you know that this was the first time in the over 120 year-history of the Games that they were ever postponed?
However, there been other instances when the Olympic Games have been cancelled or suspended. Read on to know more about which editions of the Games were cancelled, and why.
1916 Berlin Olympics
The sixth edition of the Olympic Games were to be held in Berlin in 1916. To ensure that the Games were a success, a massive 30,000-seat stadium was built in Grunewald n Berlin, Germany, which was inaugurated in a grand ceremony on 8th June 1913.
The duration of the Games was divided into three parts: “Games Week” from 28 May to 4 June; “Stadium Week” from 1 to 10 July; and “Sailing and Rowing Week” from 12 to 21 August. However, on 28th June, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the successor to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife were assassinated, an event that served as a precursor to World War I.
This event marked the cancellation of the Berlin Games. The spectacular sports complex that was built was demolished and a new stadium called the Olympic Stadium was constructed in its place. This stadium exists even today and the 1936 Olympics were held on this stadium.
1940 Tokyo and Sapporo Olympics
The 1940 Olympics were due to be held in the Japanese city of Tokyo. However, due to the commencement of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the Japanese member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Togukawa Soyeshima wrote to the then IOC President Comte de Baillet-Latour citing reasons for why Japan would not be able to conduct the Games. “We regret that the prolonged hostilities, with no prospect of immediate peace, will mean the cancellation of the Games in Tokyo,” he wrote.
Subsequently, the IOC chose Helsinki, in present day Finland, as the host of the 1940 Games. However, this entire event was cancelled following the beginning of the Second World War in 1939.
1944 London and Cortina D’Ampezzo Olympics
Due to the ongoing Second World War, the prospects of holding the Olympic Games in 1944 in London were shattered. The Winter Games, which were due to be held in Cortina D’Ampezzo in North Italy, were also cancelled.
1972 Munich Olympics
There was one instance in the history of the Olympics when the games were suspended, not cancelled. And it was during the 1972 Olympics held in Munich in Germany.
On 5th September, a Palestinian terrorist group attacked the Israeli housing in the Olympic village, taking hostages with them. This unfortunate event caused the death of 11 Israeli athletes, coaches, and judges and one policeman. In view of this gruesome event, the Games were suspended for a period of 34 hours.
On the next day, a ceremony was held in the Olympic Stadium to commemorate the lost lives, in which the IOC President, Avery Brundage, then announced: “The Games must go on.”
The entire sporting fraternity refused to surrender to this cowardly act of terrorism and the Games continued.
We hope and pray that the coronavirus pandemic quickly comes to an end that the Games, in their full glory and splendour, are held soon!1
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