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Moving Olympics costly for Japan

TOKYO, Japan — This should not come to be a surprise to anyone. The 2020 summer Olympics have been postponed to 2021.

This is the first time since 1944 that the games were moved. In ’44, they were cancelled outright due to the ongoing World War II. This postponement is obviously different, and it’s turned the sports world on its head once again. For starters, cities that host the games foot a bill that is anything but cheap. It’s the reason why Boston terminated its bid to host the 2024 Olympics back in 2015. Some cities cannot pull together the resources necessary for hosting, as taxpayers often pay for new sports venues that sometimes go unused after the Olympics are completed.

With that said, Tokyo found itself between a rock and a hard place. Japan’s capital city won the rights to hosting the 2020 games back in 2013, way before COVID-19 was a thought. In topping Madrid and Istanbul, Tokyo was in a race against the clock to prepare itself for a massive global gathering. Now, this postponement is expected to cost Japan an additional $5.7 billion USD, according to an estimate from Kansai University economics professor, Katsuhiro Miyamoto.

The decision to move the 2020 summer Olympics came after weeks of holding out hope, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound made the announcement to move on March 24.

What does this moment mean for athletes from the United States? It means Olympic training facilities around the nation are being closed. For some participants, this year’s games would have been their last. Some athletes were gearing up for their first moments on the international stage. This move will not affect those who have already qualified, as the 340 competitors in 25 sports already spent the last couple years punching their tickets to Tokyo.

While the United States often has strong showing at both the summer and winter Olympics, the Americans and other athletes will have to wait a year to see how they fair in six sports that did not appear in 2016. The return of Olympic baseball and softball has a rich history in the games. Last included in 2008, softball saw dominance by the Americans. Starting in 1996, the US won three out of four golds in the sport with Japan pulling off an upset in ’08 to win the gold over the Americans.

Baseball had on-and-off appearances at the games. Cuba won the first baseball gold medal in 1904, but the sport only appeared in 12 of the following 25 summer Olympics. The longest stretch of time baseball was included was from 1984 to 2008. However, baseball’s return as an official medal sport wasn’t official until the ’92 games. Since its return as a medal sport, the Cubans won gold in three out of the last five contests. At the 2000 Sydney games, the USA won the gold, and South Korea won the final gold medal during the 2008 Beijing games.

The four competitions making their debuts in 2021 are karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding. The field is wide open, as athletes from all over jockey for position for the first time in those sports. The wait is on, as COVID-19 puts the world’s largest sports stage on hold.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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