Rescheduled Olympics likely before summer 2021

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach gestures as he is interviewed in Lausanne, Switzerland, after the historic decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 25, 2020. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 26 March 2020

Rescheduled Olympics likely before summer 2021

  • 2020 Olympic host Japan and the IOC agreed to postpone the games due to risks from the highly infectious coronavirus disease

ATHENS: The head of the global Olympic movement said on Wednesday the rescheduled Tokyo Games faced "thousands" of logistical and financial problems but could go ahead before summer 2021.

Though most people have assumed the Games will be held around roughly the same July-August timetable as they were planned for this year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said earlier dates in 2021 were possible.

"The agreement is that we want to organize these Games at the latest in the summer 2021," he told a conference call.

"This is not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table including the summer 2021."

The IOC agreed with Japan on Tuesday to the first postponement in the Olympics' 124-year history due to risks from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) impact.

Bach said he could not guarantee all elements of the Games would remain as initially planned. For example, he did not know what would happen with the athletes' village, where apartments were set to be sold after the Games this year.

"This is one of the many thousands of questions this task force will have to address. We hope and we will do whatever we can so that there is an Olympic village, the village is where the heart of the Games beat," he said.

Bach also warned the $12 billion price tag for the Games would rise further, with additional costs for everyone involved.

"Our mission is to organize Games and make dreams of athletes come true," he added. "We have no blueprint but we are confident we can put a beautiful jigsaw puzzle together and in the end have wonderful Olympic Games."

Bach, a 66-year-old German lawyer and former Olympic fencing champion, also said outright cancellation was discussed, even though the IOC had long insisted that was not an option.

"Of course cancellation was discussed and considered like all options on the table, but it was very clear from the beginning that cancellation should not be something the IOC would in any way favor," Bach said.

The IOC has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks from athletes and teams calling for the Games to be postponed and unhappy with the slow decision-making compared to other sports events.

Asked by a German reporter whether he considered resigning over his organization's handling of the issue, Bach said "No." 

In talks with athletes' representatives and national Olympic committees last week, no one opposed the IOC's stance, he added. After repeatedly insisting the Games were on as scheduled, the IOC at the weekend announced a month of consultations over possible postponement, before seemingly bowing to global pressure for a faster judgement.

The body is due to start talks from Thursday with other global sporting bodies as moving the gigantic Olympics event has a knock-on effect for many other competitions.

"We are in an unprecedented situation. I guess these postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices, will need compromises by all stakeholders," he added.  


FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup

Updated 07 April 2020

FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup

  • Suspicion and rumors have long surrounded Qatar's bid

LONDON: The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has become the focus of fresh FIFA corruption allegations after the release of a new US Department of Justice indictment which says bribes were paid to football officials to secure their votes for hosting rights.

Suspicion and rumors have long surrounded both the 2010 vote by FIFA’s executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. But on Monday, for the first time, prosecutors set direct, formal allegations down in print.

According to the prosecutors, representatives working for Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA executive committee officials to swing votes in the crucial decision of world football’s governing body.

FIFA and the Qatar World Cup organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Qatar and Russia’s World Cup bids have always denied paying bribes.

Although FIFA has reacted to previous media allegations about the Qatar bid process by insisting the tournament will be unaffected, the USallegations will lead to further questions over the hosting of the tournament, which is scheduled for November and December of 2022.

The indictment states that the three South American members of FIFA’s 2010 executive — Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira, the late Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and an unnamed co-conspirator — took bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 tournament.

“Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and co-conspirator #1 were offered and received bribe payments in exchange for their votes in favor of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup,” reads the indictment.

Teixeira, the former son-in-law of long-time FIFA boss Joao Havelange and ex-head of the Brazilian soccer federation (CBF), was not immediately reachable for comment.

The DOJ also alleges that then FIFA vice president Jack Warner was paid $5 million through various shell companies to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.

Warner has been accused of a number of crimes in the long-running USprobe and is fighting extradition from his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. Warner, who was not immediately reachable for comment, has always denied any wrongdoing.

Alexei Sorokin, CEO of the local organizing committee for Russia’s 2018 World Cup, told the Interfax news agency: “This is only the opinion of lawyers. We have repeatedly said that our bid was transparent.

“At the time we answered all questions, including from the investigation branch of FIFA and from the media, we handed over all needed documents. We have nothing to add to this and we will not respond to attempts to cast a shadow on our bid.”

Asked if the Kremlin was aware of the US indictment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We read the media reports. We don’t understand what they refer to.

“Russia received the right to host the World Cup completely legally. It is in no way linked to any bribes. We reject this. And Russia hosted the best soccer World Cup in history, which we are proud of.”

The Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament.

In 2014, FIFA, then under the control of former President Sepp Blatter, cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in their bids to host the World Cup after an investigation.

Blatter was banned from football by FIFA along with scores of other officials following internal ethics investigations, promoted by the arrests of seven FIFA officials on UScorruption charges in Zurich in May 2015.