The telephone conversation that allowed the agreement to move the Games

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Emilio V. EscuderoEmilio V. Escudero

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After weeks of dimes and diretes, calls for calm and statements full of nervousness, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the government of Japan reached an agreement yesterday to move the Olympic Games planned for this summer next year. Tokyo 2020 will be in 2021. A decision that relieves athletes from around the world, who may now abandon their concerns and focus on fighting the coronavirus and caring for their families.

Of the four weeks of time that the IOC requested to study the scenarios of a possible postponement of the Games, it only took one day. The telematic meeting between Thomas Bach – president of world Olympism – and the authorities of Japan – with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the forefront – led to an express agreement that will take the Tokyo Games to 2021. It was the Japanese government that asked for the postponement of the Olympic event to the next year and the IOC that picked up the witness, considering that this was the best option. Almost the only one taking into account that the fight against the coronavirus prevented its celebration in late 2020 and that extending the Olympic horizon until 2022 made the appointment unfeasible for many athletes.

“Japan, as a host country, under the current circumstances, has proposed to postpone the Games for about a year so that athletes can have the best conditions to prepare for them. Bach has replied that he agrees one hundred percent, so we have reached an agreement to hold the Games in Tokyo no later than the summer of 2021.“Abe explained after the meeting. Agreement confirmed shortly afterwards by the IOC itself through a statement.

The pressure from the athletes has been the key to unlocking the problem so quickly. An atmosphere of uncertainty had been generated among the community of athletes around the world, caught between the obligation to comply with the confinement imposed by the different countries and their need to continue training in case the Games continued. “I think it is the most correct and the most sensible decision given the medical emergency situation we have worldwide. Now we have to focus on overcoming this virus, because we are going to be able to cope with it. Sure ”, he acknowledges Saul Craviotto, called to be the national standard bearer with Mireia Belmonte. The canoeist assumes that “postponement is a hard blow,” but he is determined to “face the next year with more motivation than ever.”

The sealed pact between the IOC and the government of Japan puts an end to the uncertainty of the athletes, who celebrated the announcement throughout the world. The federations also applauded the decision to move the Games, although all of them were Now it’s time to rebuild a calendar torn apart by the coronavirus. In 2021 dozens of events are planned – world and continental championships of different sports – that must now be canceled or relocated throughout that year or the next. Athletics or swimming have already announced that they will work together with the IOC to find the best fit for their world championships. “We want to express our sincere gratitude to the IOC and the organizers of Tokyo 2020 and the Fukuoka 2021 World Cup for their considerable efforts to unite the world peacefully through sport,” the International Swimming Federation acknowledged yesterday.

Classification in the air

Among the athletes, the unknown is in the classification processes and in what will happen to the athletes who have already earned a place for the Games. «For those who were classified, I understand that they must save our classification. Now the international federations have one year to restructure their calendars and schedule the tournaments that have been canceled, especially the pre-Olympic ones, and qualifiers in the new calendar, so that the athletes pending to seal their classification can do it, “he says. Damián Quintero, karate fighter and one of the top medal contenders within the Spanish team.

The IOC announced that a period is now open to develop the agreement reached with Japan over the Games, which will remain Tokyo 2020 despite being disputed in 2021 for a commercial reason. Among the pending points, in addition to these new classification systems, the most important is to determine the final date, which will be known in the next few days.



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