There’s an increasing likelihood that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed.
The Canadian Olympic Committee took the first step in telling the International Olympic Committee that it would refuse to send Canadian athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if there were held as originally scheduled with a July 24 starting date.
BREAKING: The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee will refuse to send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if the event is not postponed.The 2020 Games are currently set to begin on July 24. News release: pic.twitter.com/NT8twsqAXI
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) March 23, 2020
The Australian counterpart to the COC then reversed course from prior guidance and told their athletes to prepare for the 2020 Olympics to be postponed into 2021.
“We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty.”
— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) March 23, 2020
The momentum is clearly growing, putting pressure on the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo organizing committee to push back the games one year. The impact of such a postponement would be significant for the professional golf world, which is already grappling with realities of a truncated 2020 schedule lush with its own postponed and cancelled events.
The PGA Tour has already issued a series of postponements and cancellations on all of its tours — the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamerica, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Series China — through the middle of May. It’s reasonable to expect further changes.
The LPGA is now into May with its postponements and cancellations.
The European Tour is not set to hold an event until the end of May, with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open set to host. They could be looking at hosting events almost every day of the week in the fall to make up for postponed events.
Many of these 2020 events will never be played, but the possibility of a jam-packed fall creates some potential issues. First, the Official World Golf Ranking and Rolex Rankings, which are the basis upon which the dual 60-player men’s and women’s Olympic golf fields are derived, has been paused until professional golf resumes. Were the Olympics still to be held in 2020, the cutoff for men’s qualifying is June 22 and for women’s qualifying is June 29.
Given the current schedules of the professional tours, there would be an unfair disparity for male players to qualify. PGA Tour players would have approximately 40 days to earn world ranking points, while European Tour players would have less than a month. Events on both tours in that stretch feature higher-end fields and purses that could make it more difficult for players on the fringes of qualifying from earning enough points in time.
On the women’s side, the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour have similar resumptions on their current planned schedules, but there would be few events for players to improve their standing.
Moving the 2020 Olympics to 2021 in Tokyo would allow golf final stretch to qualify and set fields. Were the 2020 Olympics to be played amid a resumed professional golf calendar, many players would look at skipping the Olympics to play in rescheduled and previously scheduled tournaments to make up for lost time and potential wages — particularly players deeper in the world rankings who are most impacted by their tours cancelling and postponing events.
However, postponing the Olympics by a year would create some havoc with the golf calendar, as it was set to do in 2020. The major calendar was rearranged, in small part, to respond to the strain the Olympics could cause every four years. The 2021 golf calendar may well have to look almost exactly like 2020 to accommodate the Olympic golf tournaments.
Postponing the Olympics makes sense. From qualifying concerns to potential training and ramping-up issues to doping problems to transportation concerns, there are a lot of issues that cannot be addressed well enough to justify holding the quadrennial spectacle. Golf will benefit, too, allowing professionals to regain a sense of normalcy and for potential competitors to be made more economically whole.