Rescheduled Olympics likely before summer 2021

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach gestures as he is interviewed in Lausanne, Switzerland, after the historic decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Rescheduled Olympics likely before summer 2021

  • 2020 Olympic host Japan and the IOC agreed to postpone the games due to risks from the highly infectious coronavirus disease

ATHENS: The head of the global Olympic movement said on Wednesday the rescheduled Tokyo Games faced "thousands" of logistical and financial problems but could go ahead before summer 2021.

Though most people have assumed the Games will be held around roughly the same July-August timetable as they were planned for this year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said earlier dates in 2021 were possible.

"The agreement is that we want to organize these Games at the latest in the summer 2021," he told a conference call.

"This is not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table including the summer 2021."

The IOC agreed with Japan on Tuesday to the first postponement in the Olympics' 124-year history due to risks from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) impact.

Bach said he could not guarantee all elements of the Games would remain as initially planned. For example, he did not know what would happen with the athletes' village, where apartments were set to be sold after the Games this year.

"This is one of the many thousands of questions this task force will have to address. We hope and we will do whatever we can so that there is an Olympic village, the village is where the heart of the Games beat," he said.

Bach also warned the $12 billion price tag for the Games would rise further, with additional costs for everyone involved.

"Our mission is to organize Games and make dreams of athletes come true," he added. "We have no blueprint but we are confident we can put a beautiful jigsaw puzzle together and in the end have wonderful Olympic Games."

Bach, a 66-year-old German lawyer and former Olympic fencing champion, also said outright cancellation was discussed, even though the IOC had long insisted that was not an option.

"Of course cancellation was discussed and considered like all options on the table, but it was very clear from the beginning that cancellation should not be something the IOC would in any way favor," Bach said.

The IOC has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks from athletes and teams calling for the Games to be postponed and unhappy with the slow decision-making compared to other sports events.

Asked by a German reporter whether he considered resigning over his organization's handling of the issue, Bach said "No." 

In talks with athletes' representatives and national Olympic committees last week, no one opposed the IOC's stance, he added. After repeatedly insisting the Games were on as scheduled, the IOC at the weekend announced a month of consultations over possible postponement, before seemingly bowing to global pressure for a faster judgement.

The body is due to start talks from Thursday with other global sporting bodies as moving the gigantic Olympics event has a knock-on effect for many other competitions.

"We are in an unprecedented situation. I guess these postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices, will need compromises by all stakeholders," he added.  


Villa’s Grealish apologizes, fined for breaking isolation rules

Updated 30 March 2020

Villa’s Grealish apologizes, fined for breaking isolation rules

  • West Midlands Police said they were called on Sunday to an address in Solihull, near Birmingham, where the two parked cars suffered minor damage
  • Villa expressed their disappointment with Grealish and said the 24-year-old will be fined with the proceeds going to a children’s hospital in Birmingham

LONDON: Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish posted a public apology on Monday for breaking UK government guidelines on social distancing as police opened an investigation into an incident in which a Range Rover crashed into parked cars.
Villa expressed their disappointment with Grealish and said the 24-year-old will be fined with the proceeds going to a children’s hospital in Birmingham.
West Midlands Police said they were called on Sunday to an address in Solihull, near Birmingham, where the two parked cars suffered minor damage.
The force said the driver had left his details with a member of the public before leaving on foot.
“I just want to do a quick video message to say how deeply embarrassed I am about what has happened this weekend,” Grealish said in a video posted on Twitter.
“I obviously just got a call off a friend asking to go round to his and stupidly agreed to do so. I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake that I did, so I urge everyone to stay home and follow the rules and guidelines of what we are being asked to do.”
The British government has introduced restrictions on citizens leaving their homes only to shop for food and medicine, essential travel for work and one form of exercise a day to help halt the spread of coronavirus.
“Aston Villa is deeply disappointed that one of our players ignored the government’s guidance on staying at home during the Coronavirus crisis,” Villa said in a statement.
“Club captain Jack Grealish has accepted that his decision to leave his house was wrong and entirely unnecessary. It breached the government guidelines which are clear and should be adhered to by everybody.
“The player will be disciplined and fined with the proceeds donated to The University Hospitals Charity in Birmingham.”
Less than 24 hours before the incident, Grealish was part of a video appeal for people to stay at home during the lockdown.
“I hope everyone can accept my apology and we can move on from this,” added Grealish. “Hopefully in the near future we can all be out enjoying ourselves again.”
In a statement about the incident, West Midlands Police added: “Officers are investigating the circumstances and anyone with information has been asked to get in touch.”
Grealish has been Villa’s star performer on their return to the Premier League this season and was expected to earn a first call-up by England for friendlies against Denmark and Italy this month prior to football’s shutdown due to COVID-19.