Tokyo’s governor hopes having firm start date will allow athletes and organizers to better focus on preparing for the delayed Games.

Up until the middle of March, organizers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics said the Games would be going on as planned, sticking to the scheduled opening date of July 24. However, with the coronavirus outbreak becoming both more widespread and severe than initially expected, that stance quickly started to look overly optimistic.

Last week, both the Canadian and Australian Olympic team said that if the Tokyo Games did indeed open on July 24, they wouldn’t be sending their athletes to compete. The very next day, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, in a conference call to IOC president Thomas Bach, proposed postponing the Tokyo Olympics for up to a year, and it’s now been decided that such a length of time really is necessary.

On Monday, Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee president Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Seiko Hashimoto, and IOC president Thomas Bach jointly decided that the Tokyo Olympics will now open on July 23, 2021, a full 364 days later than originally planned. The closing ceremony will take place on August 8, and the Paralympics will run from August 24 to September 5.

In a statement posted to the Tokyo Games official website, organizers say they had three major factors in mind when selecting the new dates. First, obviously, was the health and safety of all participants, support staff, and spectators. Second was the ability of athletes to perform in peak condition and to preserve the integrity of the competition, likely under the logic that current conditions have disrupted athletes’ training regimens severely enough to have a severely averse effect on their performance, and in turn their legacy as Olympians. Finally, the new dates were selected to minimize conflicts with non-Olympic international sports competitions.

In addition, both Mori and Koike cited the summer vacation period being the preferable season in terms of giving spectators opportunities to attend the events and for volunteers to offer their services in welcoming visitors from across the country and around the globe.

“I believe the situation has caused a great deal of worry to athletes, volunteers, Olympic torch runners, and local municipalities,” said Koike in the announcement for the new Olympic schedule. “Now that there is a clear goal, we can turn our full efforts to defeating the coronavirus and preparing for a safe Tokyo Olympics,” she continued, and while the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent postponement isn’t what anyone envisioned when Tokyo was selected as the host for the 2020 Olympics, it’s good to know the city will get to see its Olympic vision come to life, even if it has to wait a little longer.

Source: Tokyo 2020 Olympics official website
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