But the Women’s World Cup, particularly back then, was a considerably smaller event in scope than the Olympics, with far fewer traveling fans, athletes, sponsors and media members. And in general, stadiums that can accommodate soccer, the world’s most popular sport, are easy to find. Venues that can host surfing, sailing, equestrian dressage and track cycling? Less so.
Olympic host cities block out rooms in countless hotels. They reserve high-profile venues, generate public safety and transportation plans, and deal with a host of other logistical and legal issues years in advance, in anticipation of tens of thousands of visitors.
“Who could put on an event the size and scope of the Olympic Games even beginning today, five months out?” Pound said. “Nobody, realistically.”
There is also the question of whether it would even make sense amid a viral epidemic to have thousands of people from around the world congregate in another city and then return to their homes.
Yasuyuki Kato, professor of infectious diseases at the International University of Health and Welfare in Narita, Japan, noted that the Games could act as “a hub to disseminate the virus to other countries.”
The Olympics have been canceled outright three times — in 1916, 1940 and 1944 — during the world wars.
The prospect of a cancellation now, when so many parties have invested billions of dollars and years of labor — and have legal contracts — seems almost unthinkable.