Tokyo 2020 Leaning Towards Morning Finals; Cate Campbell Speaks Out

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

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Two days ago the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved an almost complete schedule of the Olympic events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The only sports not approved at the time were the aquatic sports of swimming, diving, and artistic swimming.

The underlying reason for the missing schedules were ongoing discussions between television networks in the United States and Japan, who each wanted finals to be aired at different times. The United States pushed for morning finals to enhance prime viewing hours, while Japan wanted to host finals in the evening stating that swimming was one of the country’s favorite Olympic sports.

One day later, the FINA Bureau placed their support behind holding the swimming finals in the morning hours in Japan, benefitting prime time viewing hours in the United States. The schedule echoes that of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, where finals also took place in the morning.

The broadcasting schedule largely benefits U.S. broadcaster NBC, who signed a deal with the IOC in 2014 for exclusive broadcasting rights through the 2032 Olympic Games.

Tsuyoshi Aoki, chairman for the Japanese Swimming Federation, expressed disappointment over the decision, explaining,

“Unfortunately, it is what it is. We wanted to show the Japanese fans the swimming finals in Japanese prime time.”

While the schedule still has not been officially confirmed by the IOC or the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, many in the swimming community are not surprised to hear that morning finals might take place.

Australian Olympian Cate Campbell has spoken out about the decision to host finals in the morning, stating,

“It’s not unexpected but I’m a little disappointed that the rights of the athletes are not being considered or there has not been athlete or coach consultation. 

I have done this before (raced morning finals) in 2008 in Beijing at my first Olympic Games so it’s nothing new. 

I think it will be a lot easier than swimming in a midnight final like we did in Rio, so it’s not something that’s worrying or concerning. 

We have a no excuses policy on this team and it’s just another challenge for us to take and as I said while it is disappointing it’s not unexpected.”

Read more from Around the Rings and Reuters


  1. Tammy Lee

    This was done for the Beijing Olympics. Michael Phelps was asked for his input at the time. He basically said if you can’t swim finals in the morning you shouldn’t be there.

  2. Peter Yates

    Everyone is swimming the in the same pool at the same times. Nobody gets any advantage or disadvantage unless they choose to train or not train for the conditions.

  3. Jim Christian

    It’s crap that the US dictates to the host country about the schedule.