Olympics confirm dates for next year

The Tokyo Olympics have confirmed to take place from July 23 to August 8 next year.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games were officially postponed by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government last week due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Paralympic Games will now take place from August 24 to September 5 next year.

Athletes already qualified and quota places already assigned for Tokyo 2020 will remain unchanged.

"IOC President Thomas Bach and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee held a conference call today to discuss in detail the revised dates of the Tokyo 2020 Games,'' Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, said.

"Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Hashimoto Seiko and Tokyo Governor Koike joined the call. I proposed that the Games should be hosted between July and August 2021 and I really appreciate that President Bach, having discussed this proposal with the various international sport federations and other related organisations, kindly accepted my proposal.

"A certain amount of time is required for the selection and qualification of athletes and for their training and preparation, and the consensus was that staging the rescheduled Games during summer vacation in Japan would be preferable.

"In terms of transportation, arranging volunteers and the provision of tickets for those in Japan and overseas, as well as allowing for the covid-19 situation, we think that it would be better to reschedule the Games one year later than planned, in the summer of 2021.

"Notwithstanding the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the first time in history and various other issues that have already been highlighted, the event schedule is the cornerstone of future preparations, and I am convinced that taking this decision promptly will help speed up future preparations."

Bach, president of the IOC, said: "I want to thank the International Federations for their unanimous support and 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."

The new dates for the Olympics could create headaches for rugby as it clashes with the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

The women's World Cup is also scheduled to start in New Zealand six-weeks after the Games.

Both dates may leave players who hold aspirations to compete in both Olympic sevens and XVs with difficult decisions to make.

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