Following the International Olympic Committee’s announcement that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, FINA, the world governing body of aquatic sports, is considering its options for the 2021 World Aquatics Championships, which are scheduled for July of next year in Fukuoka, Japan.
Despite the Olympics postponement, FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu said there is no chance of the 2021 FINA World Championships being bumped to 2022.
“No, no, no, no, no, no,” said Marculescu when asked by The Associated Press if the 2021 FINA World Championships could be postponed one year.
“If they do it in summer, then we (will have to change) the dates (of the world championships),” he said. “If they do it at the beginning of the year, maybe we don’t need to touch the dates. The only thing we do, we wait to see what is the IOC decision,” Marculescu reiterated.
The Tokyo Olympics are to be “rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.”
In other words, the Games do not have to take place in the summer of 2021 if the novel coronavirus can be contained within the next 9 to 12 months.
The question came after leaders of World Athletics (the FINA peer in athletics) suggested that they would consider a move to 2022 to accommodate the Olympic schedule.
A timeline of containment is difficult to gauge, however. Some experts believe between one-third and two-thirds of the world’s population, a staggering 2.5 to 5 billion people, will have to contract the virus before the human race develops “herd immunity.” Furthermore, researchers believe a vaccine is somewhere between 12 and 18 months away.
Given the expert opinions and that March 2020 is drawing to a close (and not sheepishly), it seems likely the Tokyo Olympics will take place no less than 12 months from now, with a higher likelihood of the postponement reaching closer to a full year from the originally-planned July 24th Opening Ceremony.
At present, the next four FINA World Aquatics Championships are scheduled for Fukuoka (2021), Doha, Qatar (2023), Kazan, Russia (2025), and Budapest, Hungary (2027). The 2029 World Aquatics Championships have not yet been decided.
The IOC’s official postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games comes on the heels of both Canada and Australia announcing they would not send athletes to a 2020 Summer Olympics as the coronavirus continues to spread. Other coaches and athletes have also advocated the postponement of the 2020 Summer Games.
Though there is still much to be worked out in the coming weeks and months, the idea of postponing the Olympics one year became an increasingly popular option among athletes in terms of stopping further spread of COVID-19 and because most athletes, swimmers especially, have no place to train during social distancing.
If social distancing is driving you mad, take solace in this number: 2 million.
Some researchers believe that if the coronavirus were allowed to work its way through the United States population unimpeded (a strategy that would quicken a population’s acquisition of herd immunity) it would likely reach its peak in 3 months, infecting 81% of the population and killing around 2 million Americans. While the future is unclear, the measures society is taking now will hopefully keep the death toll well below the estimated 2 million casualties an unimpeded virus would inflict.