It's Official: Tokyo Games Taking Place Almost Exactly One Year Later
The Tokyo Games will be "held from July 23 to Aug. 8 in 2021," according to KYODO NEWS. The Games had been scheduled to take place from July 24-Aug. 9 of this year. Tokyo Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori said of the new dates, "We thought it will take time to hold qualifications and for the athletes to prepare for them." Mori also said that the Games taking place during the summer will "allow more ticket holders to watch the sports at venues and more volunteers to assist with operations." The new dates were "decided from among several proposed time frames, including springtime, to avoid major conflicts with the international sports calendar and to minimize the logistical challenges faced by organizers." A task force established by the Tokyo Organizing Committee "charged with handling the delay opted for a similar time frame" in '21 in order to "use existing plans for the games as much as possible" (KYODO NEWS, 3/30).
PRUDENT DECISION: In N.Y., Panja & Rich note the IOC initially indicated that a decision was "likely to take weeks, but it ultimately came to a faster resolution after talks with the Japanese authorities, athlete groups, commercial partners and sports organizations whose plans had been left in limbo." The announcement "came after a flurry of conference calls over the weekend stretched into Monday as the IOC moved to get all its stakeholders in alignment." Organizers will "avoid competing with most major sporting leagues in Europe and the United States when they are in the heart of their seasons" with the new dates. The dates also are "likely to suit the Olympics broadcaster in the United States, NBCUniversal, whose rights fees make up more of the IOC's income than any other single entity" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/30).
NO CONSPIRACY THEORY: REUTERS' Ian Ransom reports the Australian Olympic Committee indicated that its decision to pull out of the Tokyo Games "was unilateral and made without the knowledge" of Canada or the IOC. The AOC's move "came shortly after Canada's Olympic and Paralympic committees confirmed they would not send athletes," and the "double withdrawal prompted speculation that the two national Olympic committees may have acted together with the IOC to give the global body leverage to postpone the games." Australia's denial comes after Canada issued a similar denial on Friday (REUTERS, 3/30).