March 24, 2020 / 4:49 PM / 2 months ago

Olympics postponement set to crowd out 2021 sporting calendar

(Reuters) - The decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by a year is set to further disrupt the global sporting calendar, which has already been wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic, making for a very crowded schedule next year.

After weeks of speculation and mounting criticism at the delay in announcing a postponement, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach agreed the event would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021 at the latest.

Swimming’s 2021 World Aquatics Championships set for July 16-Aug. 1 in Fukuoka in southern Japan look set to be the first casualty of that move.

“We will now work closely with the host organizing committee of the 2021 FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, with the Japan Swimming Federation and with the Japanese public authorities, in order to determine flexibility around the dates of the competition, if necessary and in agreement with the IOC,” world swimming body FINA said.

The 2021 World Athletics Championships are also certain to be postponed after organizers said they would shift the event to accommodate the rescheduled Olympics.

The championships were due to be held in the U.S state of Oregon from Aug. 6 to Aug. 15.

Two major soccer events due this year had already been moved to next year before the Games’ announcement, with decisions last week to delay the European Championship and CONMEBOL’s Copa America by a year. The two continental competitions will each now start on June 11 and end on July 11.

Both decisions led to FIFA’s rebooted Club World Cup being indefinitely postponed, while the 2021 women’s European Championship in England will also be moved to an as yet unconfirmed date as it clashes with the rescheduled men’s tournament, which is going ahead across 12 nations.

The postponement of the Olympics, which features men and women’s soccer, means the women’s Euros cannot be moved to August and makes it more likely that the event will be played in the summer of 2022. It could also affect the 2021 UEFA Nations League and CONCACAF’S Gold Cup.

Other 2021 events featuring Olympics-bound athletes that will be affected by the Tokyo Games postponement include the world boxing championships in New Delhi, the EuroHockey nations championship in the Netherlands in August, and the European basketball championship in September.

The first postponement in the Olympic Games’ 124-year modern history could also have a knock-on effect on competitions where there will be no clash of schedules for athletes.

The Olympics is particularly valuable to broadcasters due to its unique place in the calendar, but the 2021 Games is now on a collision course with events such as rugby’s British Lions’ tour of South Africa in July and August.

Players in mens’ and women’s rugby will also be affected by the Games’ postponement as some may be participating in the Rugby Sevens in Tokyo. The women’s rugby World Cup begins in New Zealand on Sept. 18.

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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