IOC targets summer 2021 games

Olympic body wants Tokyo event to be held in July-Aug, aims to finalise dates in 4 weeks

A giant Olympic rings monument is seen at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, on March 25, 2020.
A giant Olympic rings monument is seen at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, on March 25, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is working with sports bodies to arrange a July-August window next year for the postponed Tokyo Olympics and aims to confirm the dates within a month, Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported yesterday.

John Coates, the IOC's coordination commission chief for Tokyo, confirmed the Games will have to be held in the time period between the tennis Grand Slams of Wimbledon, slated to end in mid-July, and the US Open, which starts in late August.

"We want to more or less finalise the dates in four weeks' time," said Coates, who is also the president of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC). He confirmed the summer scheduling would be dependent on avoiding clashes with the world swimming championships (July 16-Aug 1) and the world athletics championships (Aug 6-15).

He added the IOC was planning to follow the same arrangements including holding the race walking and marathon events in Sapporo instead of Tokyo to mitigate the effects of the summer heat.

While World Athletics and swimming's governing body Fina have indicated their willingness to shift their events to accommodate the Games, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports is still hopeful the IOC will look at "dates which are better from a weather point of view".

The AOC said its chief Coates had "proffered a view but a range of options are on the table for the IOC".

Yesterday, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee launched a task force to resolve issues linked to the postponement, such as reviewing new dates and securing venues.

No specifics have been discussed yet on the revised timings, but a date needs to be decided as soon as possible, Hidemasa Nakamura, a senior official, told reporters after the task force's first meeting.

The IOC and Tokyo organisers now have to quickly settle on dates that suit all parties involved, but that has not stopped continued criticism over the former's initial stance to press ahead with the Olympics this summer.

Accusing the IOC of putting athletes' health in jeopardy, Turkish Boxing Federation chief Eyup Gozgec revealed two of its boxers and their head coach caught the coronavirus after returning home from a qualifying event in London last week.

Gozgec, who is also vice-president of the European Boxing Confederation, also claimed the event had left the countries involved out of pocket as it was eventually axed after three days despite the full sum being paid upfront. He would be lodging a complaint to the IOC.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'IOC targets summer 2021 games'. Subscribe