Metcalfe: Rescheduling Olympics "A Massive Undertaking"

Postponing the Olympics was surely the right thing to do, but it also creates a logistical nightmare

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
March 25, 2020 - 10:18 am
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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan have officially postponed the 2020 Olympics to next year. This was, for many, the right decision.

But it’s also a logistical nightmare.

“It really is,” Arizona Republic Olympics reporter Jeff Metcalfe said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “With all respect to the World Cup, when you’re talking about every country in the world – 33 sports, 153 countries, 11,000 athletes – there’s a reason they give you seven years to prepare for the Olympics after they award it to you. Because it’s such a massive undertaking. There’s just all kinds of scheduling issues.”

In a joint statement issued by the IOC and Japan, the Games will be rescheduled “beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.” While the official dates are unknown, there will be logistical conflicts.

“The whole world of international sports [tries] to say, ‘The Olympics is every year, not just every four years,’” Metcalfe said. “What they mean by that is these international sports have all of their competitions in the ensuing years between Olympics. In 2021, for example, the world track championships and the world swimming championships are among the events that are scheduled to be held that year. Those are huge money-makers for those particular sports because they have control of them – unlike the Olympics, which is under the control of the IOC. 

“So there’s just so many things that have to be done,” Metcalfe continued. “It’s incredible, really, to even think about how you’re going to reschedule everything. Then you mesh in all the sponsorships, all the TV contracts – not just NBC, but the prime TV on networks around the world that put on the Olympics. It’s just a massive undertaking to try to reschedule this.”

Canada and Australia, among other countries, may have kickstarted the postponement. These countries had stated publicly that they would not participate in the 2020 Games due to the pandemic.

“I think the athletes did the right thing,” Metcalfe said. “And certainly some of the countries stepping up and doing what they did – especially Canada and Australia – made a huge difference in fast-forwarding this."