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Rescheduling of Olympics 'not restricted to summer months'

The rescheduling of the Games begins now, with doubts surrounding whether or not there will be a traditional athlete village.

A view of the Olympic Federation of Ireland offices in Howth.
A view of the Olympic Federation of Ireland offices in Howth.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

OLYMPIC CHIEF THOMAS Bach says “all options are on the table” over finding a new date to hold the postponed Tokyo Games.

The Coronavirus outbreak has led the 2020 Games to become the first Olympics in peacetime to be postponed. 

Announcing the unprecedented decision on Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee gave no specific new date, saying only it would be “beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021″.

Speaking today in a conference call with more than 400 journalists, IOC president Bach said the rescheduling of the Games in 2021 remained a “very challenging question”.

The rescheduling, he added, “is not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table, before and including the summer of 2021″.

Moving the Games to Spring would bring with it a cooler, more favourable climate, and may allow endurance events like the marathon – initially relocated north to Sapporo  – return to Tokyo. 

Bach admitted that cancelling the Games was “discussed and considered”, but clarified that “It was very clear from the beginning that cancellation was not something the IOC would in any way favour.”

A taskforce, named ‘Here We Go’, has been created to examine the issue of rescheduling the Games, and the first port of call will be with the 33 international federations of the Olympic sports, likely starting with a conference call on Thursday.

“The first step, we have to see with them, to see what the options are. We also have to take into account the sports calendar around the Olympic Games,” said Bach.

World Athletics said Monday it was prepared to shift its world championships in 2021 in order to accommodate a rescheduled Games.

The world championships are due to be held in Eugene, Oregon on 6-15 August next year.

And the International Swimming Federation said Tuesday that it was open to moving next year’s world championships to fit in with the rescheduled quadrennial sporting extravaganza.

virus-outbreak-switzerland-olympics IOC president Thomas Bach. Source: AP/PA Images

The swimming worlds are set to be held in Fukuoka in Japan between 16 July and 1 August next year.

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One of the many logistical headaches caused by the historic postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has been the uncertainty around the Athletes’ Village overlooking Tokyo Bay.

Touted by developers as a “flagship neighbourhood for urban lifestyles”, the buildings housing the 11,000 competitors were to be hastily repurposed into more than 4,000 condos with stunning city views, some carrying a price tag of 170 million yen (€1.3 million.)

When asked about how a postponement might affect the Village and its conversion, Bach said: “I cannot tell you what the situation is.

“It’s one of the many thousands of questions the taskforce has to address.

“It’s the Olympic Village (where) the heart of the Games is usually beating.”

Bach, who was part of West Germany’s gold medal-winning foil fencing team at the 1976 Olympics, added: “Of course, I’d be very, very delighted if we could have the Olympic Village in the traditional form.

“Everybody who has once lived in an Olympic Village knows that this is the real Olympic experience, that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Living under one roof with the whole world, sharing your meals together, celebrating together, discussing together, and forming this unique Olympic unity.”

Bach concluded by saying: “We are at an unprecedented situation and have an unprecedented challenge.

“We have to find the best possible situation under the circumstances that we are living in.”

Additional reporting by Gavin Cooney

- © AFP 2020

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