Olympics: What years have the Games been cancelled in history and why?

The summer Games have been called off for only the fourth time in their 124-year history

Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games have been postponed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

A joint statement from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee confirmed the news, following a conference call on Tuesday.

The Games will not now take place in 2020, but will happen no later than the summer of 2021.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO (World Health Organisation) today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” the statement read.

“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.

“Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

Tokyo had completed preparations when the virus started spreading across the world. Despite insisting for months the Games would go ahead as planned, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe relented this week admitting a delay may be unavoidable if the events could not be held in a complete form and so it has proved.

It is not the first time the Games have been postponed, however.

1916 Summer Olympics (Berlin)

The 1916 Summer Olympics were due to be held in Berlin, but were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War I.

A winter sports week with speed skating, figure skating, ice hockey and Nordic skiing was planned, events which eventually prompted the first Winter Olympics.

Berlin beat Barcelona to host the 1936 Summer Olympics, but it was shrouded in controversy as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler used the Games as a propaganda tool.

1940 Summer and Winter Olympics (Tokyo/Helsinki)

The decision to postpone Tokyo 2020 is a cruel irony as the Japanese hosts have been here before.

Tokyo beat Barcelona, Rome and Helsinki to become the first non-Western city to stage the Olympics in 1940, but were eventually forfeited after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Helsinki was then awarded the Games before the Second World War saw both the summer and winter editions cancelled.

The 1940 Winter Olympics in Japan were also cancelled.

Tokyo (1964) and Sapporo (1972) later hosted Summer and Winter Games.

1944 Summer and Winter Olympics (London)

London would have hosted its second Summer Olympics in 1944, 36 years after its first, but for World War II.

But London, which had beaten Rome, Detroit, Lausanne, Athens, Budapest, Helsinki and Montreal in a 1939 ballot, would stage the 1948 Summer Olympics three years after the war had ended.

Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo had been awarded the 1944 Winter Olympics, but had to wait 12 years for its chance with St Moritz (1948) and Oslo (1952) acting as hosts in between.

Other Olympic Games have of course been tainted by dark moments.

1972 Summer Olympics (Munich)

The Munich Olympics were tainted by tragedy when the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took 11 Israel team members hostage and killed them along with a West German police officer.

Police officers killed five of the eight Black September members during a failed attempt to rescue the hostages.

The other three terrorists were captured, but later released in a hostage exchange following the hijacking of an aircraft.

Competition continued after a 34-hour suspension and a memorial service, but the remaining members of the Israel team withdrew from the Games and left Munich.

1996 Summer Olympics (Atlanta)

The Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta proved deadly, but could have been so much worse.

Security guard Richard Jewell discovered the pipe bomb and immediately notified law enforcement, allowing many people to be evacuated from the area as possible before it exploded.

Spectator Alice Hawthorne was killed, 111 others were wounded, and the blast caused the death of Melih Uzunyol by heart attack.

Eric Robert Rudolph confessed to the bombing in 2003 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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