How Often Have the Olympics Been Canceled or Postponed? Here's A Look at the History

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Due to the coronavirus, the Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been postponed—Tokyo 2020 will now take place in 2021.

The decision to postpone was announced after months of mounting pressure from teams and athletes, and after Canada, Australia and New Zealand all announced they would not send their athletes to compete.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on Tuesday that the Tokyo Games, which were scheduled to begin in July, will be held in the summer of 2021 "at the latest". 

Postponing the Olympics is unprecedented—and canceling is extremely rare. The modern Olympics has been canceled just three times during wartime.

Here's a look at the history:

  • The 1916 Summer Olympics, scheduled to be held in Berlin, were canceled due to WWI.
  • The 1940 and 1944 Summer and Winter Olympics were canceled due to WWII.

As of March 24, 2020, there are more than 387,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across at least 169 countries.

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