Road To The Olympic Games

Summer Sports

Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8, 2021

After the first Olympic Games postponement in history — due to the spread of COVID-19 — the International Olympic Committee announced the Tokyo Olympics will take place next year, starting on July 23.

Paralympics also rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5

A countdown clock displays the remaining days until the new start date for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The opening ceremony will be held July 23, 2021 after this year's Games was postponed last week due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year's Games.

Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the games were due to start.

"The schedule for the Games is key to preparing for the Games," Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said. "This will only accelerate our progress."

Last week, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers postponed the Olympics and Paralympics until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's Games were scheduled to open on July 24 and close on Aug. 9. But the nearly exact one-year delay will see the rescheduled closing ceremony on Aug. 8. The Paralympics will run Aug. 24-Sept. 5.

"Nice that they were able to do to it so quickly as now all the (international federations) can work towards fixing their calendars for the summer," Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee said.

WATCH | IOC president Thomas Bach discusses Olympics rescheduling:

The International Olympic Committee announced Tokyo 2020 will be held in the summer of 2021, from July 23 to August 8. 2:48

In a statement, Canadian Paralympic Committee president Marc-André Fabien applauded the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and International Paralympic Committee for their quick decision-making.

Entire sport community given 'clarity'

"We recognize the vast amount of work that lies ahead to bring a postponed Games to life and greatly appreciate all of their efforts," said Fabien. "We commit to doing our part to make the Games a success.

"This now gives our entire sport community a true sense of clarity and a way to move forward. Now we, alongside our national sport organizations, partners, and athletes, can start preparations knowing we all will unite in Tokyo next summer, one year on from planned, and be able to celebrate how sport brings people together."

There had been talk of switching the Olympics to spring, a move that would coincide with the blooming of Japan's famous cherry blossoms. But it would also clash with European soccer and North American sports leagues.

Mori said a spring Olympics was considered but holding the Games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events that have been postponed by the virus outbreak.

"Seems like the obvious choice to me," said Canadian marathoner Reid Coolsaet, a two-time Olympian. "For athletes, like me, who don't have a qualifying mark, it gives us the opportunity in 2021 to post a result."

Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori, left, talks with other board members wearing protective face masks upon arrival at the Tokyo 2020 executive board meeting. (Issei Kato/The Associated Press)

After holding out for weeks, local organizers and the IOC last week postponed the Tokyo Games under pressure from athletes, national Olympic bodies and sports federations. It's the first postponement in Olympic history, though there were several cancellations during wartime.

"The IOC has had close discussions with the relevant international federations," organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said. "I believe the IFs have accepted the games being held in the summer."

Track worlds likely to be held in 2022

Muto said the decision was supported by all the international sports federations and was based on three main considerations: to protect the health of athletes, to safeguard the interests of the athletes and Olympic sport, and the international sports calendar.

"These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organization of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," the IOC said. "The new dates … also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum, in the interests of the athletes and the IFs."

The new Olympic dates would conflict with the scheduled world championships in track and swimming, but those events are now also expected to be pushed back.

The governing body of track and field says it supports the new dates for the Tokyo Olympics and is working with organizers in Eugene, Ore., to move its world championships to 2022. The 2021 track worlds were scheduled to be next year from Aug. 6-15 and the swimming world championships were scheduled for July 16-Aug. 1

World Athletics says it will consult with the organizers of the Commonwealth Games and the European Athletics Championships. Those are other major track events scheduled to take place in 2022.

"The IOC has had close discussions with the relevant international federations," Mori said. "I believe the IFs have accepted the Games being held in the summer."

The governing body of swimming welcomed the new Tokyo Olympic dates without giving any detail of how to reschedule its own world championships in Japan next year.

Cost of rescheduling 'massive'

FINA's biennial worlds were planned for July 16-Aug. 1, 2021, in Fukuoka. That slot is now taken by the Tokyo Olympics.

FINA says knowing the Olympic dates "is very helpful to federations and athletes everywhere."

The governing body of track quickly committed to pushing back its world championships to 2022. But FINA has the added complication of the 2022 Commonwealth Games because many top swimmers compete in both events.

Both Mori and CEO Toshiro Muto have said the cost of rescheduling will be "massive" — local reports estimate billions of dollars — with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.

Muto promised transparency in calculating the costs.

"Since [the Olympics] were scheduled for this summer, all the venues had given up hosting any other events during this time, so how do we approach that?" Muto asked. "In addition, there will need to be guarantees when we book the new dates, and there is a possibility this will incur rent payments. So there will be costs incurred and we will need to consider them one by one. I think that will be the tougher process."

Tokyo 2020 organizing committee chief executive officer Toshiro Muto speaks during a news conference in Tokyo. He said the the cost of rescheduling will be 'massive,' with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers. (Issei Kato/The Associated Press)

Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an emeritus professor of sports economics at Kansai University, puts the costs as high as $4 billion US. That would cover the price of maintaining and refitting stadiums, as well as paying rentals, penalties and other expenses.

Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. However, an audit bureau of the Japanese government says the costs are twice that much. All of the spending is public money except $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget.

The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3 billion, according to organizing committee documents. The IOC's contribution goes into the operating budget.

IOC president Thomas Bach has repeatedly called the Tokyo Olympics the best prepared in history. However, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso also dubbed them "cursed." Aso competed in shooting in the 1976 Olympics, and was born in 1940.

The Olympics planned for 1940 in Tokyo were cancelled because of the Second World War.

The run-up to the Olympics also saw IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda, who also headed the Japanese Olympic Committee, forced to resign last year amid a bribery scandal.

With files from CBC Sports

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.