When the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm in early 2020, major sporting events planned for 2020 including the Summer Olympic Games and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro were rescheduled to take place in 2021. Specific details of the postponed events are subject to change as the pandemic evolves, but event organizers are confident in their new dates and modifications.
Scheduled for July of 2020 in Tokyo, the Summer Olympic Games were forced to postpone due to their inability to safely host thousands of athletes and fans during the pandemic. Nevertheless, new plans were quickly released to have the games in 2021. In an interview with USA Today, Olympic organizers commented on the new plans. “No matter what happens with the virus between now and then, the Olympics can and will go on.” According to the article published by USA Today, 57 percent of athletes already secured a spot in the games prior to the 2020 date, and the other 43 percent will participate in qualifiers throughout early 2021. The games share the same start date in July as was scheduled for 2020, and will take place in the original Tokyo venue.
Four new sports will debut at the summer games, including sport climbing, surfing, skateboarding, and karate, along with the return of softball and baseball, which have not been part of the Olympics since 2008. As quoted on the International Olympic Committee website, the president of the International Paralympics Committee (IPC), Andrew Parsons, said, “No stone is being left unturned as all partners work together to ensure safe, secure and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer in Tokyo.”
The oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon, will hold its 134th tournament through mid-June and early July of 2021. Planned for 2020 in London, the tournament was forced to reschedule for 2021 due to COVID-19. In a statement on the official Wimbledon website, games officials shared their three-tier plan to deal with the pandemic during the 2021 games. “A full capacity Championships, a reduced capacity Championships, and a ‘behind closed doors’ Championships, all of which are dependent on the status of government and public health guidelines.” Wimbledon is the third of the tennis grand slam tournaments and is watched by millions around the world. Wimbledon showcases many long-standing traditions, including a specific dress code, royal patronage, and eating strawberries and cream, all of which are currently planned to continue in the 2021 tournament.
In March of 2020, the UEFA decided to postpone the 2020 European Football Championships and reschedule for June of 2021. The 2021 games are currently planned to function in 12 host cities previously picked for the 2020 event, however this plan is not fully definite. In an interview with Entertainment Sports and Programing Network (ESPN), UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said, “The plan is to have the same venues, the same cities, the same stadiums, but if anything gets complicated, then we can as well do it with eleven, then nine or less stadiums.” 24 teams qualified in late 2019 and early 2020 for a spot in the tournament. Champions of the 2016 tournament, Portugal, hope to defend their title and claim victory again in 2021.
2020 and COVID-19 brought us many disappointments, including the postponement of important and thrilling sporting events. Luckily, 2020 has ended and dates for the rescheduled games are quickly approaching. Even with the likelihood of COVID-19 during the time of the events, organizers and officials are making the necessary accommodations in order to hold the games safely. We can all look forward to momentarily disconnecting from our lives to watch the exciting sports events to come this summer and in all of 2021.