Mon | May 25, 2020

Olympic dates set for 2021 - World Athletics among bodies welcoming new schedule

Published:Tuesday | March 31, 2020 | 12:08 AM
The Olympic rings are seen yesterday, in Tokyo. The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s Games. Tokyo organisers said yesterday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021.
The Olympic rings are seen yesterday, in Tokyo. The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s Games. Tokyo organisers said yesterday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021.

TOKYO (AP):

The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s Games.

Tokyo organisers said yesterday that the opening ceremony would take place on July 23, 2021 – almost exactly one year after the Games were due to start this year.

The announcement was welcomed by several international sporting bodies such as World Athletics and swimming authority FINA.

“The schedule for the games is key to preparing for the games,” Tokyo organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said. “This will only accelerate our progress.”

Last week, the IOC and Japanese organisers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s Games were scheduled to open on July 24 and close on August 9. But the near exact one-year delay will see the rescheduled closing ceremony on August 8.

There had been talk of switching the Olympics to spring, a move that would coincide with the blooming of Japan’s famous cherry blossoms, but it would also clash with European football and North American sports leagues.

Mori said a spring Olympics was considered, but holding the games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events that have been postponed by the virus outbreak.

“We wanted to have more room for the athletes to qualify,” Mori said.

FIRST POSTPONEMENT IN HISTORY

After holding out for weeks, local organisers and the IOC last week postponed the Tokyo Games under pressure from athletes, national Olympic bodies, and sports federations. It is the first postponement in Olympic history though there were several cancellations during wartime.

The Paralympics were rescheduled to August 24-September 5.

The new Olympic dates would conflict with the scheduled World Championships in track and swimming, but those events are now expected to also be pushed back.

“We support the new 2021 dates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games announced (yesterday) by the Japanese organisers and the IOC.

This gives our athletes the time they need to get back into training and competition,” World Athletics said in a statement yesterday.

“Everyone needs to be flexible and compromise, and to that end, we are now working with the organisers of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon on new dates in 2022 for our World Athletics Championships.

We are also in discussions with the Commonwealth Games Federation and the European Championships. We would like to thank our Oregon 21 Organising Committee, their stakeholders, and our partners for their collaboration and willingness to explore all options,” the release added.

Muto said the decision was made on Monday, and the IOC said it was supported by all the international sports federations and was based on three main considerations: to protect the health of athletes, to safeguard the interests of the athletes and Olympic sport, and the international sports calendar.

Both Mori and Muto have said that the cost of rescheduling the Olympics will be “massive” – local reports estimate billions of dollars – with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.