Postponement set to crowd out 2021 sporting calendar

In this Feb. 19, 2020 photo, Atalanta players celebrate in front of their fans after the match with Valencia in Milan, Italy in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16. (REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo/File Photo)
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Updated 25 March 2020

Postponement set to crowd out 2021 sporting calendar

  • Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to move the Olympic Games to not later than summer of 2021

LONDON: The decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by a year is set to further disrupt the global sporting calendar, which has already been wrecked by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, making for a very crowded schedule next year.

After weeks of speculation and mounting criticism at the delay in announcing a postponement, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach agreed the event would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021 at the latest.

Swimming's 2021 World Aquatics Championships set for July 16-Aug. 1 in Fukuoka in southern Japan look set to be the first casualty of that move.

"We will now work closely with the host organizing committee of the 2021 FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, with the Japan Swimming Federation and with the Japanese public authorities, in order to determine flexibility around the dates of the competition, if necessary and in agreement with the IOC," world swimming body FINA said.

The 2021 World Athletics Championships are also certain to be postponed after organizers said they would shift the event to accommodate the rescheduled Olympics.

The championships were due to be held in the US state of Oregon from Aug. 6 to Aug. 15.

Two major soccer events due this year had already been moved to next year before the Games' announcement, with decisions last week to delay the European Championship and CONMEBOL's Copa America by a year.

The two continental competitions will each now start on June 11 and end on July 11. Both decisions led to FIFA's rebooted Club World Cup being indefinitely postponed, while the 2021 women's European Championship in England will also be moved to an as yet unconfirmed date as it clashes with the rescheduled men's tournament, which is going ahead across 12 nations.

The postponement of the Olympics, which features men and women's soccer, means the women's Euros cannot be moved to August and makes it more likely that the event will be played in the summer of 2022.

It could also affect the 2021 UEFA Nations League and CONCACAF'S Gold Cup.

Other 2021 events featuring Olympics-bound athletes that will be affected by the Tokyo Games postponement include the world boxing championships in New Delhi, the EuroHockey nations championship in the Netherlands in August, and the European basketball championship in September.

The first postponement in the Olympic Games' 124-year modern history could also have a knock-on effect on competitions where there will be no clash of schedules for athletes.


Villa’s Grealish apologizes, fined for breaking isolation rules

Updated 30 March 2020

Villa’s Grealish apologizes, fined for breaking isolation rules

  • West Midlands Police said they were called on Sunday to an address in Solihull, near Birmingham, where the two parked cars suffered minor damage
  • Villa expressed their disappointment with Grealish and said the 24-year-old will be fined with the proceeds going to a children’s hospital in Birmingham

LONDON: Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish posted a public apology on Monday for breaking UK government guidelines on social distancing as police opened an investigation into an incident in which a Range Rover crashed into parked cars.
Villa expressed their disappointment with Grealish and said the 24-year-old will be fined with the proceeds going to a children’s hospital in Birmingham.
West Midlands Police said they were called on Sunday to an address in Solihull, near Birmingham, where the two parked cars suffered minor damage.
The force said the driver had left his details with a member of the public before leaving on foot.
“I just want to do a quick video message to say how deeply embarrassed I am about what has happened this weekend,” Grealish said in a video posted on Twitter.
“I obviously just got a call off a friend asking to go round to his and stupidly agreed to do so. I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake that I did, so I urge everyone to stay home and follow the rules and guidelines of what we are being asked to do.”
The British government has introduced restrictions on citizens leaving their homes only to shop for food and medicine, essential travel for work and one form of exercise a day to help halt the spread of coronavirus.
“Aston Villa is deeply disappointed that one of our players ignored the government’s guidance on staying at home during the Coronavirus crisis,” Villa said in a statement.
“Club captain Jack Grealish has accepted that his decision to leave his house was wrong and entirely unnecessary. It breached the government guidelines which are clear and should be adhered to by everybody.
“The player will be disciplined and fined with the proceeds donated to The University Hospitals Charity in Birmingham.”
Less than 24 hours before the incident, Grealish was part of a video appeal for people to stay at home during the lockdown.
“I hope everyone can accept my apology and we can move on from this,” added Grealish. “Hopefully in the near future we can all be out enjoying ourselves again.”
In a statement about the incident, West Midlands Police added: “Officers are investigating the circumstances and anyone with information has been asked to get in touch.”
Grealish has been Villa’s star performer on their return to the Premier League this season and was expected to earn a first call-up by England for friendlies against Denmark and Italy this month prior to football’s shutdown due to COVID-19.