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Spanish Flu like coronavirus had affected sports but what happened to 1920 Olympics?

A hundred years ago another pandemic had brought the world of sports to a standstill. But were the Olympic games affected? Will the coronavirus affect the Tokyo games?

Spanish Flu like coronavirus had affected sports but what happened to 1920 Olympics?

Press Releases

Published: 16 March 2020 1:16 PM GMT

A hundred years ago, a flu-infected more than 500 million people all over the world. It was called the Spanish flu.

Switch to 2020, the coronavirus has crippled millions of lives across the globe. The question on everyone's mind is what is happening and why is it happening?

Sports too has been drastically affected. The outbreak of coronavirus has also put a question mark on the largest sporting event, the Olympics.

The ever rising uncertainty over Olympics is a cause of concern among the players who have been training hard for many years.

Through this piece we will try to connect these two major pandemics and see what can be the fate of the Tokyo Olympics which are scheduled to begin on 24 July.


At the time of Spanish flu too, people resorted to drastic measures and implemented strict measures to curb the spread of influenza. Concerned authorities had cancelled events to avoid large gatherings to avert health risks.

Football was one of the major sport to be affected by the pandemic and competitive football remained suspended. There was a pattern that the Spanish flu followed. It started with a fast spread, slowed in between and came back with full force to spread again. It took two years to completely control influenza.

In case of coronavirus majority of tournaments that have been affected by the coronavirus are the Olympic qualifiers. Badminton tournaments including China Masters and Swiss Open and Archery Championships are a few of the most affected sporting events.

Though it will be difficult to predict the same for a novel coronavirus, given that it is Olympic year, the confirmation of the event being held is much awaited.

The Spanish flu started in 1918 and by 1920 the situation had eased out to not hamper the conduct of the Olympics held in Antwerp, Belgium.

Around 6,500 have people have died of coronavirus till now. It will not be a surprise if the Olympics happen as scheduled especially with the proposals that are being put forward by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) like conducting the summer games in a closed arena or postponing the games for a few months.

Influenza a way bigger pandemic than what coronavirus is till now. So there are very fewer chances of Olympics getting canceled.

Also Read: International Olympic Committee to hold high-level talks for Tokyo Olympics

Also Read: A world without the great distraction of Sports, but this too shall pass

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