BANGKOK (Reuters) - Asia’s top Olympic official has ruled out the possibility of the 2022 Winter Olympics being shifted from its traditional February time-slot to avoid clashing with the World Cup, saying FIFA needed to sort out its own problems.
Soccer’s world governing body is currently considering whether to move the 2022 World Cup, scheduled to be played in Qatar in June and July, to a cooler time of the year to avoid the hottest months in the Middle East.
Soccer officials remain in dispute with some of Europe’s leading clubs over when to re-schedule the tournament, with some arguing for a January-February date, which would clash with the Winter Olympics.
But Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti president of the Olympic Council of Asia, said there was no way the two events could be held simultaneously and the onus was on FIFA to find an alternate date because the Olympics were not moving.
“I think the Olympics should be maintained because we don’t have a problem,” Sheikh Ahmad told reporters on Thursday.
“This is a FIFA issue not an IOC issue.”
Although the 2022 Winter Olympics host will not be finalised until next year, the Games are certain to be held in Asia, with only the Chinese capital Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, still in the running.
The exact dates have not been confirmed either, although every previous edition of the Winter Olympics, dating back to 1924, has been held mostly in February.
“I believe the IOC (International Olympic Committee) will maintain their time because we have already committed... the organizers, the broadcasters, all the marketing partners, the NOC’s (National Olympic Committees),” Sheikh Ahmad said.
“I don’t think something will touch the Olympics. FIFA should be flexible, this is my advice.”
Speaking to a select group of journalists at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) general assembly in Bangkok on Thursday, Sheikh Ahmad said he was confident FIFA would eventually find a compromise.
“They are the best two games in the world — the FIFA (World Cup) and the Summer and Winter Olympics,” he said.
“I think they will analyze this and try to find the solution... without touching each other.
“I am 100 percent confident that they will never be at the same time, there will be a respect for the time of each event.”
Editing by John O'Brien