November 21, 2014 / 4:09 AM / 4 years ago

Australia opposed to late-night swimming finals in Rio

(Reuters) - Australian Olympic officials say they will oppose plans to stage the 2016 Rio Olympics swimming finals late at night.

Although the final schedule for the Rio Games has not been completed, reports that the swimming finals could start at 10 p.m. local time to fit in with American television have been criticized in Australia.

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates told reporters on Friday that it was unreasonable to start the finals so late because some events would not be finished until around midnight.

He said talks were already underway to change the draft schedule, parts of which were released this week, and Australia would be pushing hard to have the finals brought forward.

“It’s a matter that the AOC will now take up with the international swimming body FINA and with the IOC (International Olympic Committee),” said Coates, who is also vice president of the IOC and a member of the co-ordination commission for Rio.

“It’s just an unreasonable demand on the athletes to be competing at that time of night.”

This is not the first time that the timing of the swimming finals at the Olympics has been criticized.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the finals were switched to the morning to coincide with prime-time viewing in the United States despite complaints from some swimmers.

Meanwhile, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has already announced that it would be changing its schedule for Rio, introducing morning finals for the first time since 1988.

While the bulk of the track and field finals will still be held in the usual night slot, the IAAF said it would conduct 13 finals — both marathons, the three race walks and eight events in the main athletics stadium — during the day.

“Staging finals in the morning was done at the request of the Rio LOC (Local Organising Committee) and the Olympic Broadcasting Service, supported by the International Olympic Committee,” IAAF Competitions Director Paul Hardy said in a statement.

“Having finals in the morning will also ensure that we receive maximum visibility for athletics at the Olympics across all time zones.”

Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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