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When the Olympics was boycotted or cancelled

Last updated on: March 24, 2020 18:35 IST
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IMAGE: Fritz Hegner of Switzerland on the shooting range at Bisley, Surrey, during the modern pentathlon event at the Olympic Games, on August 2, 1948. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

2020 Olympic Games host country Japan and the International Olympic Council decided on Tuesday to defer this year's Tokyo Games into 2021 as the coronavirus crisis obliterated the world's last major imminent sporting event.

It was the first time in the Olympics' 124-year history that they had been postponed, though they were cancelled outright several times during the two 20th century World Wars.


Here is a list of previous cancellations, boycotts and changes of venues of the Summer and Winter games.



 1916 Berlin World War I
 1940 Tokyo World War II
 1944 London World War II






 1940 Sapporo World War II
 1944 Cortina d'Ampezzo World War II




* 1908: The Games were due to be hosted in Rome but were moved to London in 1906 when the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius led Italy to divert funds to the rebuilding of Naples.

IMAGE: Photographers gather after the Munich massacre, during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, in September 1972. Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and killed by the Palestinian group Black September. Photograph: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

* 1948 (London): Germany and Japan were not invited due to their role in World War II while the Soviet Union did not participate.

* 1956 (Melbourne): Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon did not participate due to the Suez Crisis.

    Spain, Netherlands, Switzerland and Cambodia boycotted the Games because of the Soviet Union's participation.

    China boycotted the Games as Taiwan was allowed to compete and only returned to competing in 1980.

* 1964 (Tokyo): North Korea, China and Indonesia boycotted the Games after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to allow athletes who competed in the rival Games of the New Emerging Forces in Jakarta the year before.

    South Africa was barred from participating during the apartheid era in 1964 and was expelled from the IOC in 1970. The country was re-admitted to the IOC in 1991 and allowed to compete at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

IMAGE: Shirley Strickland of Australia on her way to winning the women's 80m hurdles in a new Olympic record time of 10.8 seconds at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, in Melbourne, Australia. Shirley Strickland de la Hunty died February 17, 2004 in Perth aged 78. (Photo by Getty Images. Photograph: Getty Images

* 1972 (Munich): Rhodesia was banned from taking part a week before the Games when African countries threatened a boycott.

* 1976 (Innsbruck): The Winter Games were originally awarded to Denver in 1970 but it backed out two years later after public resistance and amid environmental concerns. The Austrian resort of Innsbruck stepped in instead.

* 1976 (Montreal): 29 countries, mainly African, boycotted the Games after the IOC refused to ban New Zealand, whose rugby team had toured apartheid South Africa that year.

    Taiwan withdrew because Canada did not allow them to compete as the Republic of China.

* 1980 (Lake Placid): Taiwan boycotted the Winter Games after the IOC recognised the People's Republic of China as 'China' and asked Taiwan to compete under the name 'Chinese Taipei'.

* 1980 (Moscow): 66 countries, led by the United States, boycotted the Games due to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan although some athletes participated under the Olympic flag.

IMAGE: Jesse Owens' Granddaughter Gina Hemphill runs through the stadium with the Olympic Torch before the 1984 Olympic Games at the Coliseum Stadium in Los Angeles, United States. Photograph: Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images

* 1984 (Los Angeles): 14 countries, including the Soviet Union, East Germany and its allies boycotted the Games in response to the American-led boycott in 1980.

* 1988 (Seoul): North Korea and Cuba boycotted the Games while five others either did not respond to the invitation or were unable to send athletes due to financial constraints.

* 2018 (Pyeongchang): Russia was banned by the IOC from the Winter Games due to a state-sponsored doping scandal and their athletes were only allowed to compete under the Olympic flag.


* 1972 (Munich): 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinians who broke into the Olympic Village and events were suspended for more than 24 hours before the Games resumed.

* 1996 (Atlanta): A pipe bomb was detonated at the Centennial Olympic Park, killing two people and injuring 111, but the Games continued as planned.

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