‘A celebration of resilience’: dates for 2021 Olympics and Paralympics confirmed

  • The dates for the postponed Tokyo Olympics have been confirmed, with the Games set to go ahead from 23 July to 8 August 2021 — exactly a year later than originally scheduled.

    The Tokyo Paralympics will also run on the equivalent dates: 24 August to 5 September 2021. This is the first time in the history of the Olympics and Paralympics that the Games have been postponed, owing to the worldwide coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

    The new dates have been agreed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan government and the government of Japan, and are designed to give all those involved in organising the Games, as well as health authorities, as much time as possible to deal with the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    They have also been chosen to minimise disruption to the international sporting calendar and to provide enough time for qualification processes to be completed.

    “With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan government, the Japanese government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge.

    “Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.

    The IPC president, Andrew Parsons, added: “The new dates provide certainty for the athletes, reassurance for the stakeholders and something to look forward to for the whole world. When the Paralympic Games do take place in Tokyo next year, they will be an extra-special display of humanity uniting as one, a global celebration of human resilience and a sensational showcase of sport.”

    British dressage Olympian Carl Hester, who had been aiming for Tokyo with his 2018 World Equestrian Games bronze medallist Hawtins Delicato, welcomed the new confirmed dates.

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    “I think it’s ideal that the Games will go ahead on the equivalent dates next year — it will work well with all the plans that would have gone into preparing for this year,” he told H&H. “We will still have challenges with the travel, and the heat and humidity in Japan at that time of year, but we knew about these things already and have been preparing for it.”

    The confirmation of rescheduled dates has come sooner than expected by many. It was just one week ago that Mr Bach and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed that the 2020 Games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community”.

    It has not been confirmed what impact this date change will have on the 2021 European Championships. The dressage, para dressage, showjumping, driving and vaulting Europeans were due to take place in Budapest, Hungary, on 23-29 August 2021, while the eventing Europeans were scheduled for 11-15 August 2021 in Haras du Pin, France.

    FEI president Ingmar de Vos said: “Of course there will be an impact on the international calendar across all sports, and from an FEI perspective this includes four major European Championships, but we are already looking at ways we can minimise that impact.

    “The remit for our discipline-specific task forces that are evaluating the impact of Covid-19 on the 2020 calendar has now been expanded to cover 2021. Now we have confirmed dates for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we need to explore possible alternatives for a number of major FEI events, notably the European Championships in jumping, dressage and para dressage in Budapest, and the European Eventing Championships in Haras du Pin, France. This process will be started immediately.

    “We need to also look at deadlines for obtaining minimum eligibility requirements and extending the deadline for registration of ownership for Olympic horses and will announce those as soon as possible, but we have had confirmation from both the IOC and IPC that national Olympic and Paralympic Committees which have been allocated Olympic or Paralympic quota places will retain them despite the postponement of the Games to next year.”

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