Only war has cancelled Olympics

TOKYO: The Olympic Games has suffered political boycotts (Moscow 1980) and terrorism (Munich 1972), but has only ever been cancelled due to outbreaks of war.

With the announcement that the 2020 Games will be postponed over the coronavirus pandemic, here is a look back at Berlin 1916, Tokyo 1940 and London 1944 – when global conflicts forced the Games to be scrapped.




At the IOC meeting in Stockholm in Jul 4, 1912, the sixth Olympic Games were awarded to Berlin, with the German capital beating out competition from Alexandria, Amsterdam, Brussels, Budapest and the US city of Cleveland.

Germany pulled out all the stops, opening a stadium with a capacity of around 33,000 in western Berlin's leafy Grunewald district in 1913 to celebrate 25 years of Kaiser Wilhelm II's reign as head of the German Reich.

The stadium took only 200 days to build, according to the German Olympic Committee (DOSB) and featured a 100-metre-long swimming pool on its northern side.



The sporting programme was to feature athletics, wrestling, fencing, shooting, modern pentathlon, cycling, gymnastics, swimming, rowing, hockey and golf.

For the first time, women were invited to participate in swimming, diving, tennis and netball, the DOSB said in its history of the 1916 Games.

A two-day test event was held on Jun 27 and 28, 1914 in the Berlin stadium. On the second day, Archduke Frank Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, starting a chain of events that would led to the outbreak of World War I.

It is not clear when the Games fell victim to the war but the founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, decreed that the Berlin 1916 Games still be counted as the sixth Olympiad, even though they never took place.

The next Games – the seventh Olympiad – were awarded to Antwerp in recognition of the horrors suffered by Belgium in World War I.

A flag with the famous Olympic rings symbol was raised for the first time and doves were released at the opening ceremony as a sign of peace. Germany was excluded.

TOKYO 1940

In the same way Tokyo 2020 officials have framed the Games as the "Recovery Olympics" after the devastating 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, Tokyo cast a bid for 1940 as a chance to show it had recovered from a catastrophic earthquake in 1923.

Spearheaded by legendary Japanese figure Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo and the country's first IOC member, Tokyo was awarded the 1940 Games after ferocious lobbying, including persuading Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to pull out of the race.

The Games were supposed to celebrate the 2,600 years since the enthronement of Japan's mythical first emperor Jimmu, but they became untenable because of the country's military aggression in China.

With Japan at war with China from 1937, diplomatic pressure grew for Japan to give up the Games and the military began to question why resources should be diverted from the war effort to fund Olympic construction.

The Japanese Olympic Committee eventually bowed to the inevitable andRead More – Source