Tokyo must be cursing their luck. What is it about the Japanese capital and cancellation of the Summer Olympics Games? The 2020 gathering were set to be the 29th installment of the modern Games, have first started back in Athens in 1896.
Organisers of the 2020 Games will be very much aware that the last time the event was cancelled, with everything in place, was back in 1940 with Tokyo set to host their first Games. London was subsequently cancelled in 1944, having been awarded the Games, but little planning was ever put into the event.
The cancellation of 1940 put to an end 5 Summer Games in a row (1920-1936). This was preceded by five Games in a row from Athens in 1896 to Stockholm in 1912. World War 1 broke the link.
Based on these earlier experiences, where the world managed to string just 5 Games in a row before major disruption hit, the recent run of 19 Games is quite remarkable. It demonstrates the stability of the world order since 1945 and the general success in avoiding major upheaval on a global scale. Covid-19 has put an end of this run.
We have taken this and many other things for granted. I recently read a tweet that said how unlucky someone born in the year 1990 has been. They have lived through a global financial crisis and now global pandemic by 30. But what about 1900? These people lived through a pandemic, world war and depression by the time they were 30. A second war was on the way. If you were Russian this also included a revolution. 19 Games in a row is proof of the success of many global institutions, both economic and political.
Had we followed a similar pattern to the past, following the cancellation of Tokyo in 1940, the Games would have restarted in 1948 in London for a chain of 5. This would have meant London, Helsinki (1952), Melbourne (1956), Rome (1960) and Tokyo (1964). At least the Japanese city would have missed out of losing the Games again...just.