Australian News

Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23, 2021 start after the coronavirus forced postponement


March 31, 2020 10:17:12

The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s games — but the International Olympic Committee has acknowledged it does not yet know if all the venues will be available.

Key points:

  • The IOC and Olympics organisers have set new dates for the Tokyo Games after postponing this year’s event due to coronavirus concerns
  • The Olympics will now be held beginning on July 23, 2021 and ending on August 8.
  • The new dates for the Tokyo Paralympic Games are August 24 to September 5, 2021

Tokyo organisers revealed the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the games were due to start.

“The schedule for the games is key to preparing for the games,” Tokyo organizing 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.

“This is a huge challenge. It is unprecedented,” IOC president Thomas Bach said.

“We don’t have a blueprint. We have no experts to refer to.

“Now, we have to work and we’re working already with the international federations.

“We have to take the qualification into consideration — what it means for the athletes.

“We have to see, and in particular the organising committee will have to see, whether the sports venues are still available. What is happening with all the installations which have already been accomplished for the games in 2020.”

Mr Bach also acknowledged the need to sort out “a good solution” for the Olympic Village, which he tagged “the heart of the games.”

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“We have to cooperate with all the broadcasters all over the world to have as many people as possible following these postponed Olympic Games,” he said.

“We have to find agreement with sponsors — they, in turn, have to adjust their programs.

“So, it’s really a huge challenge.”

The IOC chief said the decision on the dates had been 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.

Athletes responded to the news, posting to social media to welcome the new timeline.

There had been talk of switching the Olympics to the northern 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.

Mr Mori said a spring Olympics was considered but holding the games later would give 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,” Mr Mori said.

After holding out for weeks, officials 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 the new dates of August 24 to September 5, 2021.

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 (IFs),” organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said.

“I believe the IFs have accepted the games being held in the summer.”

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

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

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