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.


Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8 in 2021

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2020

Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8 in 2021

  • Organizers wanted to have more room for the athletes to qualify, after many qualifying events were postponed

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

Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the Games were due to start this year.
“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 organizers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s Games were scheduled to open on July 24 and close on Aug. 9. But the near exact one-year delay will see the rescheduled closing ceremony on Aug. 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 soccer 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.
After holding out for weeks, local organizers and the IOC last week postponed the Tokyo Games under pressure from athletes, national Olympic bodies and sports federations. It’s the first postponement in Olympic history, though there were several cancellations during wartime. The Paralympics were rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
The new Olympic dates will 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,” Mori said. “I believe the IFs have accepted the Games being held in the summer.”
Both Mori and CEO Toshiro 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.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Spring Olympics was considered but holding the Games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events.

• The new Olympic dates will conflict with the scheduled world championships in track and swimming, but those events are now expected to also be pushed back.

• The cost of rescheduling the Olympics will be ‘massive’ — local reports estimate billions of dollars — with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.

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.”
Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an emeritus professor of sports economics at Kansai University, puts the costs as high as $4 billion. That would cover the price of maintaining stadiums, refitting them, paying rentals, penalties and other expenses.
Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. However, an audit bureau of the Japanese government says the costs are twice that much. All of the spending is public money except $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget.
The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3 billion, according to organizing committee documents. The IOC’s contribution goes into the operating budget.
IOC President Thomas Bach has repeatedly called the Tokyo Olympics the best prepared in history. However, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso also termed them “cursed.” Aso competed in shooting in the 1976 Olympics, and was born in 1940.
The Olympics planned for 1940 in Tokyo were canceled because of World War II.
The run-up to the Olympics also saw IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda, who also headed the Japanese Olympic Committee, forced to resign last year amid a bribery scandal.