Coronavirus Outbreak: Tokyo Olympics 2020 organisers agree to hold postponed Games from 23 July - 8 August in 2021

Tokyo Olympics will now be held between 23 July and 8 August, 2021 after a new date was agreed to by the organisers and the IOC.

FP Sports March 30, 2020 17:42:42 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: Tokyo Olympics 2020 organisers agree to hold postponed Games from 23 July - 8 August in 2021

New dates for the postponed Tokyo Olympics were announced on Monday after a discussion between the organisers and IOC. The first-ever postponement of the Olympics will see the Games held between 23 July and 8 August in 2021. The Games were rescheduled last week due to the coronavirus pandemic. Initial schedule had the Olympics starting from 24 July this year.

The Paralympic Games will be held between 24 August and 5 September.

“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.”

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Representational photo of Tokyo Olympics 2020. AP

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. It has previously been confirmed that all athletes already qualified and quota places already assigned will remain unchanged.

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

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.

“The IOC has had close discussions with the relevant international federations," organising committee CEO Toshiro Muto said. "I believe the IFs have accepted the games being held in the summer.”

Muto said the decision was made 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.

IOC President Thomas Bach said: “I want to thank the International Federations for their unanimous support and the Continental Associations of National Olympic Committees for the great partnership and their support in the consultation process over the last few days. I would also like to thank the IOC Athletes’ Commission, with whom we have been in constant contact."

"With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge. Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel,” he added.

Last week’s delay, the first in the 124-year history of the modern Olympics, represents a huge blow for Japan, which has invested $13 billion in the run-up to the event, and raised $3 billion from domestic sponsors.

Muto promised transparency in calculating the costs, and testing times deciding how they are divided up.

“Since it (the Olympics) were scheduled for this summer, all the venues had given up hosting any other events during this time, so how do we approach that?” Muto asked. "In addition, there will need to be guarantees when we book the new dates, and there is a possibility this will incur rent payments. So there will be costs incurred and we will need to consider them one by one. I think that will be the tougher process.”

The organising committee held several calls with the IOC over the last week to discuss benefits and drawbacks of Games held next year, either in spring or summer, said Mori.

Earlier on Monday, the , said the committee was moving “in the direction” of honouring tickets bought for the 2020 Games at the rescheduled event, or providing refunds in case of scheduling changes,

“We want to honour the hopes of all those who purchased the tickets amid high demand,” Muto told a news conference.

But it was too early to say what the additional costs of the delay would be, Muto said.

The IOC and Japanese government succumbed to intense pressure from athletes and sporting bodies around the world last Tuesday by agreeing to push back the Games because of the coronavirus epidemic.

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(With inputs from agencies)

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