Tokyo 2020: Gauging the length of tunnel

Published on April 19th, 2020

Much like the COVID-19 pandemic, postponing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games had a global impact. But as the International Olympic Committee set out to describe that effort, health professionals are warning that might not be their hardest decision.

Considering the international sports competition has only been canceled three times: once during World War I (1916) and twice during World War II (1940, 1944), wanting the Games to take place in 2021 might not be enough for that to occur.

Since current health guidelines are only minimizing the spread of the virus, a leading global health scientist is reinforcing the message in how it is “very unrealistic” the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will take place next year unless a coronavirus vaccine has been found by then.

Professor Devi Sridhar, who is chair of global health at the University of Edinburgh, said the chances of Tokyo 2020 going ahead as planned “all depends on a vaccine”.

“We’re hearing from the scientists that this could be possible. I had thought it would be a year or a year and a half away but we’re hearing possibly this could come sooner,” she said.

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers want the Games to be the light at the end of the tunnel, the length of the tunnel is not within their control.

“If we do get a vaccine within the next year then actually I think that (Olympics) is realistic,” remarked Sridhar. “The vaccine will be the game-changer – an effective, affordable, available vaccine.

“If we don’t get a scientific breakthrough then I think that looks very unrealistic.

“I think they’ve made the right decision in saying ‘we are going to put it back a year and re-evaluate’.

“And I think that is the only way you can deal with this situation – to take stock, to be hopeful, to support our scientific community and our NHS (National Health Service) community to do what they can, because science in the long-term is going to be the way we get out of this.”


Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021


Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your daily or weekly download by email.

Subscribe - In popup

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.