KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Other sports, beware – the Olympic Games may be coming to grab your big-event dates in the hugely complex calendar which is promised for 2021.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, followed up the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 summer Games by addressing that “very challenging question”.
The IOC’s own co-ordination commission and the Tokyo organisers have created a taskforce calling itself Here We Go. The task is daunting because other sports are also being forced to delay championships. Also, the IOC has given itself only an eight-month window.
Bach & Co, to keep their United States media partners happy, need to find a calendar slot which does not clash with the autumn’s NFL season.
He responded to a rescheduling question at a media briefing by saying: “At the latest in the summer of 2020. That means this taskforce can consider the picture is not restricted to just the summer months. All the options are on the table before and including the summer of 2021.”
This could mean, in theory, an Olympics clash with the French and Wimbledon tennis grand slams or football’s European Championship finals in June and early July.
TV time clash
That presumably, would not go down too well with broadcasters so the most likely choice will probably be something similar to this year’s aborted July 24 to August 9.
That would create problems for European football federation UEFA’s scheduled staging of the Women’s Euro in England between July 7 to August 1. UEFA was already shaping up to push it back but it cannot run into the Olympics because the Games are vastly important to women’s football – and after that Premier League football will be taking over the stadia.
Bach added: “This needs consultation with the 33 international federations. We have to see what are the options and after that we have to take into account the sports calendar around the Olympic Games and many other issues.
“We should come to a solution as soon as possible but taking into account all the stakeholders, the national Olympic committees, athletes, partners and the organising committee is key also in this.”
Bach added: “The Games have never been postponed before. We have no blueprint but we think we can put a beautiful jigsaw together and have a wonderful Games.”
Earlier Bach explained how and why, earlier this week, the IOC and the Japanese government appeared to have changed their minds over going ahead with Tokyo 2020 so suddenly and so late in the day.
He said: “We have always communicated that we were monitoring the situation day by day and would follow the advice of the World Health Organization.
Good news, bad news
“On one side we could see the progress in Japan in fighting the virus but on the other side the virus was spreading so rapidly that it became more of a question whether the world could travel to Japan.
“Japan was very confident to go ahead and then we saw last Sunday the figures from Africa with many countries becoming infected. We also saw the dynamic development in South America and in the United States and other countries.”
Urgent talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led to Tuesday’s joint agreement for a postponement.
Seeking out a glimmer of light in a dark cloud, Bach added: “These Games in 2021 can be a celebration of humankind after having overcone this unprecedented challenge of coronavirus.
“These Games and the Olympic flame can be a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”