Olympic Games have new 2021 dates — Here’s what you need to know

Mar 30, 2020

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The Olympic torch was already in Japan awaiting the 24 July opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo when COVID-19 tightened its grip of the world. Now, the flame will need some extra burn time, because the Olympics are officially delayed until 2021. Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the games would be delayed until next year. Today, we have the new rescheduled dates.

The new Olympic dates, one year after those originally planned for 2020 are 23 July 23–8 August 2021. The newly rescheduled Paralympic dates are 24 August–5 September 2021.

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The unprecedented move of the Summer Olympic Games will impact a very large number of international visitors, who will need to decide whether to reschedule their flights and hotels to 2021, to coincide with the new event dates.

Olympic flame starting its journey to Japan (Photo courtesy of International Olympic Committee)
Olympic flame starting its journey to Japan. (Photo courtesy of the International Olympic Committee).

Delaying the games to 2021 doesn’t mean that organizers expect the coronavirus pandemic to remain a massive threat through late July (though that’s certainly a very real possibility). But the additional reality is that Olympians need to be training right now to be properly prepared for the games. In many cases, that simply isn’t possible due to safety concerns and social distancing orders that have led to the closure of gyms, pools and other crucial training facilities.

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What we know about the Olympics delay

Delaying an Olympic Games is new territory for everyone involved. The Olympics have been cancelled before — in all cases, due to World Wars — though a delay caused by a pandemic is a first.

That decision to delay came after several countries urged the IOC to cancel the games. Canada had already pulled out of the Games, while Australia said the delay in cancelling caused “stress and uncertainty” for its athletes, according to the New York Times. The United States also urged the IOC to postpone.

What to do if you were attending the 2020 Olympics

Tickets

It is believed that the tickets sold for the 2020 Summer Olympics will remain valid on the new 2021 dates. We do not know whether refunds will be offered to those who cannot attend in 2021.

Flights

Each airline has different policies as it relates to coronavirus changes or cancellations. Many airlines have either stopped long-haul international flights or significantly reduced them. Those cancellations and schedule changes, however, don’t all extend to late July at this juncture, so you may want to be patient and see if more cancellations occur in the future. You can also follow the change and cancellation guidelines available from your airline.

Hotel

Major hotel chains have also put change and cancellation policies in place, though some are more customer-friendly than others. Similar to airline coronavirus policies, those policies don’t extend into the summer when the Games take place. We suggest monitoring your hotel or Airbnb’s dedicated coronavirus page for updates. If your hotel was secured as part of a hotel and ticket package, then you’ll need to sit tight and wait for guidance from your booking source, such as CoSport.

Bottom line

Planning a trip to the Olympics is a gold medal sport all by itself. It can take years to pull off, so my heart is with those who are now faced with piecing apart their summer trip to Tokyo and the Olympics and perhaps postponing it to the July 2021 dates.

The statement from the IOC said the Olympic flame will stay in Japan and the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Hopefully, you’ll still have the opportunity to attend the Games — just a bit later than anticipated.

Additional reporting by Victoria M. Walker

Featured image by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

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