The Tokyo Olympics will begin on July 23 next year, organisers said on Monday, after the Covid-19 coronavirus forced the historic decision to postpone the Games until 2021.
“The Olympics will be held from July 23 to Aug 8, 2021. The Paralympics will be held from Aug 24 to Sept 5,” Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference.
Only hours earlier, Mori had said he expected a decision from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the course of the week.
The Olympics are the highest-profile sporting casualty of the coronavirus that has wiped out fixtures worldwide and all but halted professional sport.
Underfire CEO of the FIH Dr Batra said, “On behalf of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), I would like to thank the International Olympic Committee, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Government of Japan and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for having confirmed the new dates of next year’s Olympics so swiftly.
The international hockey community fully supports this decision. Athletes and coaches can now plan their preparations in full knowledge of the new schedule, which is very helpful.
We look forward to a magnificent event which will unite the world in Tokyo next year!
In the meantime, I wish everyone to keep well and safe.”
Hockey players and governing bodies around the world took to social media to welcome the news that gave them a new date to prepare for.
The Japanese government had touted the Games as the “Recovery Olympics“, designed to show how the country had bounced back from the 2011 triple disaster of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in the northeastern Fukushima region.
The Games are now being billed as the expression of humanity’s triumph over the coronavirus.
“We are embarking on an unprecedented challenge,” said Mori earlier Monday.
“But I believe it is the mission of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee to hold the Olympics and Paralympics next year as a proof of mankind’s victory” against the virus.