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COVID-19 event news: Tokyo 2020, Inspiration Games and more

Tokyo 2020

The organising committee for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games has presented a progress report on preparations for the event, confirming that it has reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to stage a “simplified” Games.

In March, Tokyo 2020 was officially postponed until next year due to COVID-19 and the Olympics will now run from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

One of the principles outlined yesterday (Wednesday) by Tokyo 2020 for next year’s Games is to “simplify and optimise” the preparation and delivery of the event, while keeping a focus on sport and athletes, to reduce the cost impact of a potential postponement.

Speaking following an online meeting with the IOC executive board, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori and chief executive Toshiro Muto outlined a number of items that have been identified for streamlining the Games. “The Games will not be a grand splendour but will be a simplified Games,” Muto said.

Specific details of how the Games will be streamlined have not been revealed but Mori stressed that the sports themselves would not suffer. The Associated Press news agency reported that the torch relay could be among the reductions, with the combination of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics also being considered.

Tokyo 2020 said that critical sport competition and athlete-related elements would only be adapted to the new context “if absolutely necessary for Games operational reasons”.

Mori added that the possibility of cancelling the Games completely has never been discussed by local organisers and the IOC.

Inspiration Games

Organisers of the Weltklasse Zürich athletics meet in Switzerland have announced details of an innovative new Inspiration Games event.

The Games will serve as a Diamond League exhibition event and will feature 30 athletes competing in eight disciplines across seven stadia. The 90-minute event will be produced by Swiss broadcaster SRG SSR.

The traditional Weltklasse Zürich usually serves as a Diamond League final but this will not take place due to COVID-19.

Christoph Joho, co-meeting director of the Weltklasse Zürich, said: “We would like to present a live event at Weltklasse Zürich level even this year. Therefore, we have been looking for creative ideas and working on new formats.”

The Games will look to showcase traditional sport in a new way and will serve as a competition between Europe, America and the rest of the world. Three stars per event will compete in various arenas in their respective region.

Uncommon disciplines, such as the women’s 150m, will form part of the programme. Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Allyson Felix, Mujinga Kambundji will be among the athletes competing and will run from Florida, California and Zurich, respectively.

Alain Zobrist, chief executive of Swiss Timing, said: “Swiss Timing will provide four stadiums with synchronised timing systems that will generate real-time data during the competitions and broadcast the results directly on TV. In particular, the latest transmission technologies will be used, which will be controlled centrally from Zurich. This is a great innovation for athletics and we are very happy to take on this technical challenge.”

The event is the latest initiative launched as part of the Weltklasse Zürich Inspiration Series, which debuted with the OneMillionRun on May 30-31. The OneMillionRun saw people from across Switzerland run more than a million kilometres over 48 hours.

Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) executive board has approved a 24-hour change in the start date for the Birmingham 2022 Games, which will now take place from July 28 to August 8.

The announcement comes in response to the significant impact COVID-19 has had on the international sporting calendar. The adjustment follows discussions between organisers of major sporting events and will ensure that Birmingham 2022 will stage two full weekends of action while extending the recovery period for athletes competing in the World Athletics Championships, which will take place in Eugene, Oregon from July 15-24.

The alteration of the opening ceremony of Birmingham 2022 will also avoid a potential clash with the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Football Championships, which has been pushed back a year to avoid a clash with the postponed men’s European Championships.

It will be a bumper summer for athletics, with the European Championships also due to take place in Munich, Germany from August 11-21.

Image: IOC Media