Waiting Games over? Tokyo Olympics now target July 2021

Updated: Mar 30, 2020, 08:19 IST | AFP | Tokyo

Tokyo 2020 organisers eye July 2021 for delayed Olympics after city governor wants event moved to a less hot and humid time of the year, claims report

A man anchors his boat in front of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic rings in Tokyo, Japan. The Games have been postponed to next year. Pic/Getty Images
A man anchors his boat in front of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic rings in Tokyo, Japan. The Games have been postponed to next year. Pic/Getty Images

Tokyo Olympics organisers are eyeing next July as a start date for the postponed Games, Japanese media reported on Sunday, following the historic decision to delay the event due to the Coronavirus.

Given the ongoing pandemic and need for preparation time, the likely plan would be for the Games to begin on July 23, 2021, public broadcaster NHK said, citing sources within the organising panel. It came after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike raised the idea on Friday of moving the event to a less hot and humid time of year. She argued that this would make marathons and other races easier to endure, meaning they could be held in the capital instead of in northern Sapporo city, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had decided to move them.

Decision on dates next week
The Tokyo 2020 team led by Yoshiro Mori is currently discussing possible dates with the IOC, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. On Saturday, Mori told a Japanese TV station that "some kind of conclusion" would be reached within a week. The Olympics were scheduled to open on July 24 this year with the Paralympics on August 25, but Japan announced last week it had secured agreement from the IOC to postpone the Games.

Meanwhile, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said that the decision to postpone this year's Tokyo Olympics has saved athletes from "mental turmoil". "We didn't want to have the athletes in a position where they were countering government advice, maybe even breaking the law,"
Coe said.

Risk to families
"And of course in the back of their minds was always that concern, it wasn't just their own training programme, but that they ran the risk of infecting themselves, their families, their kids, grandparents or parents, and we just wanted to take them out of that mental turmoil," he added.

Olympic chief fears escalating costs

It will be a major challenge on deciding who covers the additional costs arising from the postponement of the Games, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has warned International Federations. "The extra cost that will arise is inevitable," Mori wrote in a letter to the Federations. "Deciding who will bear these costs and how it will be done will be a major challenge," he added.

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