World Athletics willing to move
2021 worlds to accommodate rearranged Olympics
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[March 24, 2020]
By Gene Cherry
(Reuters) - The International Olympic
Committee (IOC) and Tokyo organisers may have been presented with a
new date for the 2020 Olympic Games should they be postponed when
World Athletics agreed on Monday to change the dates of its 2021
world championships in the United States.
"World Athletics has already been in discussion with the Oregon 21
Organising Committee regarding the possibility the Olympic Games may
move to next year," athletics' governing body said in a statement.
The championships in Eugene, Oregon are currently scheduled for Aug
6-15 and would be the first ever to be held in the United States.
"The Organising Committee of Oregon 21 is aware of the possibility
of date changes should the 2020 Olympic Games be postponed to the
summer of 2021," organisers said in a statement.
USA Track and Field (USATF), the governing body for the sport in
America, said it supported the discussions.
The IOC, easing its position that the Games would go on this year,
said over the weekend it would decide in four weeks whether to delay
the Olympics. It has been facing rising opposition to a 2020 Games
because of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands.
A one-year postponement looked like the best solution, senior IOC
member Dick Pound of Canada told Reuters on Monday. That would mean
the Games, scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9, were most likely to be held
in the summer of 2021.
"Probably what turned the tide in the last couple of days is the
curve on the COVID-19 virus," Pound said.
"It is getting very, very steep now and this is clearly not
something that is going to be under control by June or July and
probably not by the end of the year."
Canada said on Sunday their athletes would not attend the Games if
they are held in 2020 and Australia told athletes to prepare for a
"World Athletics welcomes discussions with the IOC to postpone the
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and has written to the IOC to share this
feedback from the sport," the governing body said on Monday.
The previous day, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe outlined
three reasons why the Games were "neither feasible nor desirable" in
2020 with a July 24 starting date.
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Athletes compete in the women's 20 km race walk final during the
15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing,
China August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
"We can no longer expect a fair and level playing field in our sport
given the number of athletes who are struggling to train," Coe said
in a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach.
"If we lose the level playing field, we lose the integrity of the
competition. Nobody wants this.
"By making a decision on delaying the Games, the IOC can stop the
real anguish that athletes are currently facing in these uncertain
times and perhaps reduce the possibility of injuries as athletes
"No one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed," Coe added, "(but)
we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of
"I believe the time has come, and we owe it to our athletes to give
them respite where we can.
Monday's World Athletics statement noted Oregon organisers have been
in touch with key stakeholders.
It added that "they have reassured us they will work with all of
their partners and stakeholders to ensure that Oregon is able to
host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates should
that prove necessary."
Oregon organisers, who are building a new stadium for the
championships, confirmed the discussions and said "we can reassure
World Athletics that we will work with them to ensure that Oregon
can still host the World Athletics Championships on alternative
dates should that prove necessary."
A statement from USATF said the organisation was "fully aligned with
World Athletics and Oregon 21.
"We remain committed to working with them, and all our partners and
stakeholders to host the best competition in Oregon," it said.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ken
Ferris and Ian Chadband)
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