MONACO (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee has defended Rio de Janeiro Olympics organizers’ plans to have late night swimming finals at the 2016 Games, saying on Friday the competition times had to suit a global audience.
Although the final schedule for the Rio Games has yet to be officially signed off by the IOC, Australian officials have said swimming finals late in the day, to fit mainly with American television, were unreasonable.
Late night finals would also not suit Europe while Asia would be watching them in the morning.
“The schedule has to work around the world, to give the best showcasing of the Games,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams after the body’s executive board meeting.
“The athletes have to be happy and FINA (the swimming federation) are happy. As for the late night issue this is not the first time in Games history where sports are held late in the evening.”
He said the final competition plan had yet to be officially approved by the IOC but had been accepted.
“There was no formal decision (on the competition schedule) but it is one that has brought acceptance,” said Adams.
Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates, an IOC vice president, had said in November it was an “unreasonable demand on the athletes to be competing at that time of night.”
This is not the first time the timing of the swimming finals at the Olympics has been criticized, with the Beijing 2008 Games switching finals to the morning to coincide with prime-time viewing in the U.S. despite some complaints from athletes.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has already announced it would change its schedule for Rio, introducing morning finals for the first time since 1988.
“It’s a real balance of a whole number of people, the sports and logistics. You have to balance that with 700 events,” Adams said. “It’s a trick but they seem to have reached a conclusion that suits everybody.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ken Ferris