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Olympics

Coronavirus-postponed Tokyo Olympics could be held before the summer of 2021

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a news conference on Wednesday.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, speaking Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, said “all the options are on the table” over finding a new date to hold the postponed Tokyo Games.
(Denis Balibouse / AFP/Getty Images)

A day after announcing the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the head of the International Olympic Committee suggested the competition might be rescheduled at some point before the summer of 2021.

Speaking with hundreds of reporters in a teleconference on Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said a newly formed task force will face the “huge jigsaw puzzle” of setting a new date amid the continuing coronavirus outbreak.

“That means this task force can consider the broader picture,” he said. “This is not just restricted to the summer months. All the options are on the table.”

Working in a group dubbed “Here We Go,” representatives from the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee will hold their first meeting on Thursday. They will focus on creating an open space in an already crowded 2021 sports calendar.

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Bach noted that the international federations governing each sport must be willing to cooperate, which could include shifting previously scheduled world championships and other major events.

“I guess that these postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices, will need compromises by all the stakeholders,” he said. “We have to find the best possible solution under the circumstances we are living in.”

The task force has no timeline but is hoping to reach a decision as soon as possible. Extending his jigsaw analogy, Bach said: “If you take out one piece, the whole puzzle is destroyed. Everything has to come together and everything is important.”

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Before this week’s decision, the IOC had insisted on pushing ahead with plans to hold the Games as scheduled in late July. When asked about criticism of this stance, Bach cited President Trump and other world leaders in explaining the desire to wait for a potential decline in the outbreak.

Full coverage of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“In the last couple of weeks, the measures of many governments, they were limited until middle of April, some beginning of May,” he said. “You have maybe seen the latest declarations there in the United States from President Trump about the prospect of middle of April their being able to lift many restrictions.”

The IOC president also cast the rescheduled Olympics, whenever they might be held, as a potential return to normalcy.

“These Olympic Games and the Olympic flame can be a light at the end of this very dark tunnel humankind is going through at this moment,” he said.


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