March 30, 2020 / 9:18 AM / 4 months ago

IOC member Malago predicts delayed Games will be held in July next year

FILE PHOTO: Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malago smiles after the announcement of Milano and Cortina as the host cities for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games during the 134th session of IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

ROME (Reuters) - The head of Italy’s Olympic Committee (CONI) believes that the Tokyo Games, postponed by a year because of a coronavirus pandemic, will start on July 23, 2021, he said in a television interview.

The games were originally set to start on July 24 this year, but were postponed last Tuesday, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a delay of about a year after a telephone call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.

CONI president Giovanni Malago’s comments, in a interview with state broadcaster RAI, supported a Japanese media report on Sunday that also suggested July 23 as the start date.

“I have an idea, and maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so, because I’ve talked to so many friends, “ said Malago, who is an IOC member.

“I think that within a short time the IOC will come out with the date of July 23, 2021, maintaining in fact the same window foreseen this year.”

Malago said the late July start would avoid a clash with the Euro 2020 football championship, which has also been postponed for one year and will now run from June 11 to July 11.

“There would also be the possibility of bringing forward the Olympics by one or two months,” Malago added. “The IOC is in contact with all international federations to find the best solution, given all the events on the calendar in 2021.

“Perhaps some athletes would have preferred the Games to be brought forward to the spring but July 23, 2021 is the solution that creates fewer problems for the calendar in a year very full of commitments, such as the European Football Championship.”

In Japan, the president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, said on Monday a decision on a new date could come as early as this week. [nL4N2BN230]

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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