Sports

Tokyo Olympics could take place in spring of 2021: IOC chief

All options until summer of 2021 are on the table, says IOC chief

The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics could be staged before the summer of 2021, said International Olympic Committe (IOC) president Thomas Bach yesterday.

Though most people have assumed the Games will be held around roughly the same July-August timetable as they were planned for this year, Bach did not rule out staging it earlier next year.

"The agreement is that we want to organise these Games at the latest in the summer 2021," he told a conference call.

"This is not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table, including the summer 2021."

The IOC agreed with Japan on Tuesday to the first postponement in the Olympics' 124-year history due to risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the last major international sporting event of 2020 to be cancelled, with many questioning why a seemingly inevitable decision took so long to make as the pandemic raged around the world.

Athletes were sad but largely relieved, given disruption to their training. The decision was a huge blow to Japan, which has invested US$12 billion (S$17.39b) in the run-up, and presents a massive headache to reorganise logistics, funding and sponsorship.

Bach said he could not guarantee all elements of the Games would remain as initially planned. For example, he did not know what would happen with the Athletes' Village, where apartments were set to be sold after the Games this year.

"This is one of the many thousands of questions this task force will have to address. We hope and we will do whatever we can so that there is an Olympic village, the village is where the heart of the Games beat," he said.

MORE COSTS

Bach also warned the price tag for the Games would rise further, with additional costs for everyone involved.

The 66-year-old German lawyer and former Olympic fencing champion, also said outright cancellation was discussed, even though the IOC had long insisted that was not an option.

"Of course cancellation was discussed and considered like all options on the table, but it was very clear from the beginning that cancellation should not be something the IOC would in any way favour," Bach said.

The IOC is due to start talks with other global sporting bodies from today, as moving the gigantic Olympics event has a knock-on effect for many other competitions.

Athletics' world championships, originally scheduled in Oregon, US, from Aug 6-15 next year, could be pushed back to 2022, while the World Aquatics Championships, set for July 16-Aug 1 in Fukuoka, Japan, next year, are also likely to be rescheduled. - REUTERS

OTHER SPORTS