TOKYO: Pressure from world football federation FIFA has persuaded the Tokyo Olympic Games organisers to change both the stadium and the kickoff time for the women’s football final.

It had been scheduled to start in the late-morning heat of 11am local time at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and the Games broadcaster OBS agreed to FIFA concerns about the health of the players.

Thus, the Yokohama International Stadium, 30km from Tokyo, will host the men’s finals on Saturday, between Brazil and Spain, at 8:30pm and the women’s on Friday between Sweden and Canada at 9pm local.

A forecast of heat beyond 40 degrees at the time of the match between Sweden and Canada, and the terrible condition of the pitch at the Olympic Stadium, punished by field athletics, were the official reasons for the change.

The organisers and local authorities were initially opposed to a change of venue and timings because of logistical, security and protocol issues in the fight against Covid-19. The movement of volunteers and stadium service employees, in addition, of course, of journalists who will cover the event, were further issues and, eventually, the health and integrity of players and refereeing officials took priority.

Also changed was the timing of the men’s bronze medal match between Japan and Mexico now at 8pm in Saitama at 6pm on Friday so as not to clash with the women’s final.