Tokyo’s Olympic Games, originally scheduled for this summer in the Japanese capital, will now take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021, it has been confirmed today (Monday).

The Paralympic Games will then follow from August 24 to September 5. The new dates were confirmed in a joint statement released by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Government of Japan.

The announcement comes after Tokyo 2020 was officially postponed last Tuesday due the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The decision for the new dates was taken on three main considerations: to protect the health of athletes and everyone involved in the Games, and to support the containment of Covid-19; to safeguard the interests of athletes and of Olympic sport; and the global international sports calendar.

It is hoped the new dates will give the relevant health authorities the maximum time to deal with the ever-changing landscape and disruption caused by the pandemic. This year’s Olympics had originally been scheduled for July 24 to August 9, and the Paralympics were due to take place from August 25 to September 6.

The new dates will also allow more qualification time for athletes. The Games will still officially be known as Tokyo 2020.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “I want to thank the International Federations for their unanimous support and the Continental Associations of National Olympic Committees for the great partnership and their support in the consultation process over the last few days.

“I would also like to thank the IOC Athletes’ Commission, with whom we have been in constant contact. 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.”

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike added: “In consideration of the global coronavirus outbreak, we need a certain timeframe before we fully prepare for the delivery of Games that are safe and secure for the athletes and spectators. Also, the preparation for the new dates will go smoothly, as the dates match with same timeframe as the original competition dates, corresponding with ticketing, venue staffing, volunteers and transport.

“Therefore, I believe that celebrating the opening of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on 23 July 2021 is ideal. The athletes, volunteers, torchbearers and local municipality governments have been concerned about the situation. Since we now have concrete new dates to aim for, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will commit all its resources, and work closely with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the national government and other stakeholders to fully prepare for the delivery of Games that are safe and secure.”

World Athletics also confirmed today that it is working with organisers of its 2021 World Championships in Oregon on new dates for 2022. The event is scheduled for next summer but this is set to be pushed back a year following the Tokyo 2020 postponement.

World Athletics said it supported the new dates for the Olympics, stating that it gives athletes the time they need to get back into training and competition.

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto conceded last week that organisers face “massive” additional costs in securing the facilities to deliver a rescheduled Olympic Games next summer.

Earlier this month, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee announced that all new permanent venues for the Games had been completed. The Tokyo Aquatics Centre was the final permanent venue to be completed on schedule at the end of February.

Muto stressed that it is not just the 43 competition venues that will need to be secured once again, but also thousands of existing contracts spanning the likes of accommodation, security and ticketing.

Image: IOC/Christophe Moratal