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.


Kimmich: Bayern need to stay ‘hungry’ for Champions League bid

Updated 09 July 2020

Kimmich: Bayern need to stay ‘hungry’ for Champions League bid

  • Under head coach Flick, Bayern have won all 11 games since the season resumed in mid-May

BERLIN: Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich says the double-winning German champions must stay “fully focused and greedy” for more silverware during their two-week holiday before launching their assault on the Champions League.

“Now it’s time to recharge our batteries and then tackle the Champions League with full focus and greed,” the 25-year-old told magazine Sport Bild.

Head coach Hans-Dieter Flick sent Bayern on a two-week holiday after winning the German Cup last Saturday before fine-tuning their preparations for the Champions League.

After completing the double with a 4-2 cup final win over Leverkusen, Bundesliga champions Bayern are on a 17-match winning streak dating back to February.

Under Flick, Bayern have won all 11 games since the season resumed in Germany in mid-May amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bayern are chasing a treble and are among the favorites in Europe after routing Chelsea 3-0 in London in the last 16, first leg, last February before the Champions League halted due to COVID-19.

Bayern still need to finish the tie to reach the quarterfinals and the draw for the remaining rounds in the knockout stages takes place this Friday. Kimmich called on his teammates to keep training during their break to maintain the “hunger” for the Champions League finals in Lisbon next month.

“It will be decisive how we return from vacation: We want to keep that feeling, that hunger,” Kimmich added.

Having stumbled last November, when Flick succeeded Niko Kovac who was sacked following a 5-1 thrashing by Frankfurt, Bayern are now in great form.

Robert Lewandowski has scored 51 goals this season, including 34 in the Bundesliga and is the Champions League’s top-scorer with 11.

Behind the Poland striker, Thomas Mueller has 25 assists, including a record 21 in the Bundesliga.

Kimmich has bossed the defensive midfield alongside Germany teammate Leon Goretzka and suggests Bayern have developed a mental edge.

“In the last two seasons, mentality has been the most important factor in winning the German league title,” said Kimmich.

“FC Bayern may be ahead of other teams in this respect.”