How Many Times Have The Summer Olympics Been Postponed Or Canceled?

While there can be some hesitancy to embrace the financial and logistical responsibilities of the Olympics, countries are generally eager to host the games. However, there have been several occasions where international tragedy had struck, compromising a country's ability to host and the Olympics have been canceled (via Mental Floss). This has particularly impacted the Summer Games, which had to be postponed or canceled altogether four times. The first was in 1916, when the Olympics were scheduled to take place in Berlin. Since the world was in the midst of World War I — many fighting against Germany — it's understandable that the Summer Games weren't exactly a priority.  

Germany was already a pariah on the international political stage, so it only made sense that it would assume a similar role in the arena of competitive sports. As such, the Berlin 1916 Summer Olympics were outright canceled — two years before the end of the war.

War and disease have kept several cities from hosting

World War II managed to cancel the Summer Games twice, in both 1940 and 1944. The 1940 Games were originally to be held in Tokyo, following the 1936 Olympics in the other Axis capital of Berlin. Due to international condemnation of Japan's war in China, however, the city opted out of hosting (via Washington Post). An alternative that year would have been Helsinki, Finland, but in early 1940 the country was still fighting against Soviet invasion (per History) while the rest of Europe was preparing for yet another war with Germany. 

The London Summer Olympics in 1944 were canceled due to the ongoing European Theater of World War II (though officially the Olympics did occur, just without any games or competitors, via Topend Sports). London, Helsinki, and Tokyo all hosted the Olympics at least once in the postwar years. Yet when Tokyo was given this honor again for the 2020 Summer Olympics, Japan had to endure postponement once again. The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing that year, and out of safety concerns, the Olympics were instead held in 2021.