For the first time in the history of the event, the 2020 Summer Olympics — originally scheduled for this July — will be postponed nearly one year later to July 2021.
This date has been confirmed after the IOC postponed the games indefinitely last week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Olympics joins every major sports league in the world to either cancel or temporarily suspend operations in wake of the virus. The NBA specifically has been suspended for nearly three weeks with the league announcing the hiatus on March 11. The original plan was to be suspended for 30 days, but it’s now clear that this may go until late May or even June before games are played.
The organizers for this year’s games gave an official date for the Opening Ceremony in July 2021, according to ESPN:
Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the games were due to start.
The IOC had a choice between spring or summer, but went with the latter for two main reasons:
“These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organisation of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the IOC said. “The new dates … also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum, in the interests of the athletes and the IFs.”
Under the standard NBA scheduling, players should be able to attend the 2021 Summer Olympics the same way they would’ve been able to for 2020. However, the extended hiatus may cause the NBA to implement a permanent schedule change that starts the new season in December and plays until July or August.
If this change happens for the 2020-21 NBA season, then players who have made the playoffs may not be able to play in the Olympics. While the league is closely monitoring this and is aware of these implications, they may still decide that this is the right way to go.
If players who are in the playoffs can no longer go to the Olympics, it would drastically change basketball during the summer. Not only would the United States be severely lacking in talent, but other national teams that rely on NBA players for success may also lose out as well.