Tokyo Olympics to kick off on Jul. 23, 2021

Tokyo, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- The International Olympic Committee and the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have agreed to hold the event between Jul. 23 and Aug. 8, 2021, officials confirmed on Monday.

The two groups agreed on the new dates during a conference call also attended by the Japanese government and Tokyo authorities, after it was decided on Mar. 24 to postpone the mega sports event – originally set to be held between Jul. 24 – Aug. 9, 2020 – due to the global crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee Yoshiro Mori confirmed the new dates in a press conference after a teleconference with IOC President Thomas Bach, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, and Japan’s Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto.

Mori said that the schedule had been prepared keeping in mind the need to give “sufficient preparation time” to the athletes and the other parties involved and in order to ensure that the Games were held during vacations.

He said that the summer dates also suited the need to provide enough time for the coronavirus crisis to subside.

The Paralympic Games, which were set to be held between Aug. 25 and Sep. 6 this year, will now take place between Aug. 24 and Sep. 5, 2021.

The dates for both the events are nearly identical with the original schedule, being brought forward by a day to ensure that the opening ceremony falls on a Friday.

Earlier on Monday Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto had confirmed that the Olympics would be held in Spring or Summer 2021.

He had said that although the same tickets could be used for the rescheduled Olympics, the organizers were ready to offer refunds.

“If they (ticket holders) have difficulties attending (the event), we plan to give them a refund,” Muto said.

Besides the economic and logistical costs for the organizers arising from this delay, a major challenge for them will be to maintain the morale of the Japanese people, which has been affected by the change in plans.

As the new coronavirus pandemic intensified in recent weeks the Tokyo organizing committee and the Japanese government had kept insisting that the Games would go ahead as planned, despite growing calls for the competition to be adjourned.

However, they bowed to international pressure after several countries, such as Canada and Australia, announced that they would not be sending their athletes if the Games were held this year.

This is the first time in the 124-year long history of modern Olympics that the event has had to be postponed, although it witnessed cancellations during the two World Wars. EFE-EPA


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