Olympic Postponement Will Cost Some Athletes Their Lone Chance at Glory

Some Olympians have been planning their whole lives around this summer

Japanese National Flag over the Olympic Rings symbol is seen
The Japanese National Flag over the Olympic Rings symbol.
Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty
By Evan Bleier / March 25, 2020 11:55 am

Even for the type of world-class athletes that compete in the Olympics, the chance for glory is a fleeting one.

Age, injuries and the rise of competitors make it difficult for the majority of Olympians to compete in more than one edition of the Games, according to FiveThirtyEight.

In fact, research shows 74 percent of all Summer Olympians participated in just one installment of the Olympics. Given that the Tokyo Games are now postponed until 2021, it is far from a given that all the competitors will be the same next summer as they were supposed to be in 2020.

Olympic historian Bill Mallon likened the situation to when the Olympic Winter Games were held within two years of one another in 1992 and 1994.

Using those as an example, Mallon attempted to determine how many athletes could expect to compete in both 2020 and 2021.

Though moving the Games until next summer was clearly the right decision, it will certainly have consequences for a number of Olympic hopefuls.

“There will undoubtedly be a sizable contingent of athletes whose Olympic dreams would have come true this year but won’t next year — as a result of circumstances far beyond their control,” FiveThirtyEight wrote.

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