The announcement of the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games aroused media interest throughout the world on Wednesday morning.
“It’s official: Olympic Games delayed until 2021” headlined The Japan Times, the oldest English-language newspaper distributed in Japan. More or less the same headline appeared on the sports pages of the international press on Wednesday.
The American daily USA Today opens with “the postponed Olympic Games will be worth waiting for,” expressing a little bit of optimism and hope for a better tomorrow for many athletes. In Canada, The Star recalls the fact that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are the first in history to be postponed in peacetime since first being held in 1896.
In Italy, a country sorely affected by the coronavirus, the Corriere della Sera hails the awaited decision. “The report is historic. It is a wise decision. It marks the end of an astonishing debate on the economic consequences that serves no purpose and is tiresome. Sports cannot be allowed to be put to one side by the world at this time – especially when people are dying in hospitals and families suffering. The Olympic Games are synonymous with joy, competition, records, medals, but at the right time. Bad timing would leave a poor impression. The IOC avoided that yesterday.” The Gazzetta dello Sport adds a hopeful headline: “The Games postponed until 2021 and the hope of a better world to come.”
In England, The Guardian talks of the athletes who support the report’s decision, describing it as “something that is beyond the rest of us.” The Independent recalls the time it took to react, pointing the finger at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan.
In France, the sports daily L’Equipe takes advantage of the occasion to pay tribute to Albert Uderzo, the recently deceased screenwriter and illustrator notably of Asterix, with the headline “Asterix at the Olympic Games in … 2021”, continuing along the same lines: “Games forbidden. The IOC and Tokyo have decided to postpone the next Olympic Games until 2021, a decision surprising in its rapidity and which brings an end to the questioning of athletes.”
Marca in Spain follows suit linking the news to Albert Uderzo by illustrating its front page with Asterix on the podium receiving the Olympic palm, along with the headline: “Tokyo 2021, the Victory Games.” AS, another Spanish sporting daily, packs the Olympic rings in a box on which it is written: “See you in 2021.”
That’s also A Bola’s headline in Brazil on a background of Olympic rings, symbols and continents, “socially distanced” from each other.
In Russia, “Sport Express” has the headline: “The chips are down, but in a positive way!” taking the opportunity to “clarify the status of Russian athletes” still suspended for doping. Vedomosti balances fears and hope in a context where “the Olympic Flame remaining in Tokyo is an element of hope in these troubled times.”
The daily Pravo in the Czech Republic, sums up the general feeling as something “between sadness and relief.” “Athletes regret that this is happening this year for what was to be one of the high points of their careers, but the decision is welcome after weeks of speculation. Things have finally been made clear.”
In Australia, national broadcaster ABC emphasises the taking of this decision had the support of Australian officials.
Metro Sport and The Sun in Britain take a slightly different approach, emphasising that the Olympic report “is a disaster” in logistical terms and an economic nightmare for Japan, sports organisations and sponsors.
In Asia, the English version of the China Daily also analyses the economic impact of such a decision on business in China and Indian Times goes even farther: “Tokyo is beginning the Olympian task of re-organising the Games”, wondering to what extent it is now possible to carry out re-programming without knowing when the coronavirus threat will be over.