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IOC still eyeing July-Aug Olympic Games next year

Delayed Olympics' taskforce hopes to finalise new dates in a month

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is working with sports bodies to arrange a July-August window for the postponed Tokyo Olympics next year and hopes to confirm the schedule within a month, Japan's Yomiuri newspaper reported yesterday.

John Coates, the IOC's Coordination Commission chief for Tokyo, told the Yomiuri the Games would have to be held 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," the paper quoted Coates as saying.

Coates, who is also president of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), said the summer scheduling would be dependent on avoiding clashes with the world championships for swimming (July 16-Aug 1) and athletics (Aug 6-15).

World Athletics boss Sebastian Coe has said the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, could be pushed back to 2022 if necessary.

Coates told the newspaper the hope was to follow the same arrangements that had been planned for 2020, including holding the marathon in the northern city of Sapporo instead of Tokyo to escape the heat.

The AOC confirmed the Yomiuri report's veracity and also told Reuters in a statement that Coates had "proffered a view but confirms a range of options are on the table for the IOC".

The IOC and Japanese government succumbed to intense pressure from athletes and sporting bodies around the world on Tuesday, agreeing to push back the Games by as much as a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yesterday, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee launched a taskforce to resolve issues linked to the postponement, such as reviewing dates for the Games and securing venues.

No specifics have been discussed on the timing of the delayed Games, but the dates need to be decided as soon as possible, Hidemasa Nakamura, a senior official at Tokyo 2020, told reporters after the taskforce's first meeting.

IOC president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday "all options" were on the table for rescheduling, including holding the Games before the summer.

Another issue that the taskforce will need to grapple with is the "massive" additional costs of rescheduling.

"One by one, we need to ensure the problems we face can be solved," Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said in opening remarks at the taskforce's first meeting.

MASSIVE COSTS

"Additional expenses are going to be quite massive we assume. With regards to our revenues, we need to make a lot of effort there," he added.

Muto gave no estimates for how much the process of postponing the Olympic and Paralympic Games could cost.

But, according to the Nikkei daily, organisers estimate it will cost an extra US$2.7 billion (S$3.9b), including for venue rentals, rebooking hotels and additional payments for staff and security guards, among others.

Those costs could still come down depending on the outcome of negotiations, the business daily reported.

Muto said organisers would not rip up their existing plans, but added: "I guess we need to step back a bit.

"Sometimes you need to go back to the drawing board."

The Olympics have never faced this much disruption in peacetime, and the decision to delay the event has created unprecedented challenges, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said.

Tokyo 2020 staff "will experience difficulties they have never experienced before".

"I am sure they will rise to the occasion. This is going to be a very difficult task that we are facing," he said. - REUTERS, AFP

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