Tokyo 2020 To Start On 23 July 2021, the International Olympic Committee Confirm

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Tokyo 2020 will take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021, the International Olympic Committee have announced.

The Olympic Games were scheduled to start on 24 July 2020 but the relentless march of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic meant they were postponed last week for the first time in their history.

The IOC said they would take place no later than summer 2021 and there had been some talk of a spring Games but confirmation came on Monday with the dates of the Paralympic Games also announced as running from 24 August until 5 September 2021.

It does though beg the question of when the World Championships, due to take place in Fukuoka, Japan from 16 July to 1 August 2021, will go ahead with reports in Australia claiming they will run from mid-August 2021 although no official decision is expected until next month.

Governing body FINA released a statement – posted at the bottom of this article – saying they were working with the Fukuoka organisers on a revision of those dates.


Photo Courtesy: Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The confirmation came following a teleconference on Monday involving IOC President Thomas Bach, Tokyo 2020 President Mori Yoshirō, Tokyo governor Koike Yuriko and Olympic and Paralympic Minister Hashimoto Seiko.

The IOC said the decision was taken with three main considerations being taken into account:

“To protect the health of the athletes and everyone involved and to support the containment of the COVID-19 virus.

“To safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport.

“The global international sports calendar.”

The IOC also noted that a July 23 start to the Games would give the health authorities as much time as possible to deal with the coronavirus and its ensuing chaos across the world.

“Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel.”


Pertinent given the observations of Kosuke Kitajima, the four-time Olympic champion and Tokyo resident, last week when he told Swimming World:

“I am still a little bit sceptical as to whether people in Tokyo really understand about this virus – especially in the light of globally what is happening overseas and the trend there. I understand when people say it’s not time right now for sport.

“Because it is something we ourselves are not familiar with, we don’t know people who have contracted the virus.

“It still feels like something far off to us. In other words, we are not feeling the real urgency or the desperation ahead.”

There was also confirmation that athletes that had already qualified for Tokyo 2020 will retain their spots while quota places will be unaffected as Tokyo will remain the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.

IOC President Bach concluded his statement by saying:

“Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel.”

Katinka Hosszu, who won three gold medals among a four-strong haul in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, posted on social media, saying:

“New dates for Tokyo Olympics, 2021 July 23- aug 8. We are lucky as athletes in this unlucky situation that we can plan in our head and we got a full year to prepare!
#olympics #tokyo2021NE #tokyo”

London 2012 100m breaststroke champion Cameron van der Burgh, who had spoken about his battle after contracting the coronavirus, posted on social media, saying:

British Swimming chief executive Jack Buckner added:

Triple Olympic champion and Netherlands chef de mission Pieter van den Hoogenband said:

Glad that clarity came quickly and that all athletes and coaches can set their goals again #TeamNL#olympics#tokyo2020


Photo Courtesy: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY SportsThe IOC released a statement, which read:


“The leaderships of the key parties came together via telephone conference earlier today, joined by IOC President Thomas Bach, Tokyo 2020 President Mori Yoshirō, Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko and Olympic and Paralympic Minister Hashimoto Seiko, and agreed on the new schedule.

“This decision was taken based on three main considerations and in line with the principles established by the IOC Executive Board (EB) on 17 March 2020 and confirmed at its meeting today. These were supported by all the International Summer Olympic Sports Federations (IFs) and all the National Olympic Committees (NOCs):

“1. To protect the health of the athletes and everyone involved, and to support the containment of the COVID-19 virus.

“2. To safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport.

“3. The global international sports calendar.

“These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organisation of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The new dates, exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020 (Olympic Games: 24 July to 9 August 2020 and Paralympic Games: 25 August to 6 September 2020), also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum, in the interests of the athletes and the IFs. Additionally, they will provide sufficient time to finish the qualification process. The same heat mitigation measures as planned for 2020 will be implemented.

“In a call on Tuesday 24 March 2020, based on information provided by the WHO at the time, IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō concluded that the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would be held in their complete form and not later than summer 2021.

“The Prime Minister reiterated that the government of Japan stands ready to fulfil its responsibility for hosting these successful Games. At the same time, IOC President Thomas Bach stressed the full commitment of the IOC to successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“Following today’s decision, the IOC President said: “I want to thank the International Federations for their unanimous support and the 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.”

IPC new logo 1

IPC logo: Courtesy of

Andrew Parsons, the President of the IPC, commented: “It is fantastic news that we could find new dates so quickly for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The new dates provide certainty for the athletes, reassurance for the stakeholders and something to look forward to for the whole world.

“When the Paralympic Games do take place in Tokyo next year, they will be an extra-special display of humanity uniting as one, a global celebration of human resilience and a sensational showcase of sport. With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games 512 days away, the priority for all those involved in the Paralympic Movement must be to focus on staying safe with their friends and family during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

The President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Mori Yoshirō, said: “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. Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Hashimoto Seiko and Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko 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 sports 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 the summer vacation in Japan would be preferable.

“In terms of transport, 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 to 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.

“I would like to thank all the stakeholders, including the host city Tokyo and the Government of Japan, for their hard work during this short period. The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will continue to work hard for the success of next year’s Games.”

“Governor Koike Yuriko said: “In consideration of the global coronavirus outbreak, we need a certain timeframe before we fully prepare for the delivery of Games that are safe and secure for the athletes and spectators. Also, the preparation for the new dates will go smoothly, as the dates match with the same timeframe as the original competition dates, corresponding with ticketing, venue staffing, volunteers and transport.

“Therefore, I believe that celebrating the opening of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on 23 July 2021 is ideal.

“The athletes, volunteers, torchbearers and local municipality governments have been concerned about the situation.

“Since we now have concrete new dates to aim for, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will commit all its resources, and work closely with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the national government and other stakeholders to fully prepare for the delivery of Games that are safe and secure.”

“It has previously been confirmed that all athletes already qualified and quota places already assigned for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will remain unchanged. This is a result of the fact that these Olympic Games Tokyo, in agreement with Japan, will remain the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.”

Clarity For Tokyo 2020 But Questions Arise For 2021 World Championships

Once the dates for Tokyo 2020 were announced, FINA released a statement saying they were looking at revising the proposed schedule for Fukuoka 2021.

The World Athletics Championships had been scheduled for Eugene, Oregon, in August 2021 but governing body World Athletics said on Monday they would move the event to 2022.

FINA, however, are intent on sticking to 2021 with the sporting calendar the following year already busy with the European Championships, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Pan-Pacific Championships.

The statement read:

“FINA welcomes the announcement of revised dates for Tokyo 2020 and the clarity they bring.

“Faced with the unprecedented need to reschedule the Olympic Games, our friends at the IOC and Tokyo 2020 have reacted with great speed and professionalism. To already know the dates is very helpful to federations and athletes everywhere. FINA would like to express its best wishes to all those who have committed themselves to making the aquatics competitions of Tokyo 2020 the great success that I know they will be,” said FINA President Dr Julio C. Maglione.

“FINA will now consult with the organisers of the 2021 FINA World Championships in Fukuoka (JPN) to examine a revision to the proposed dates for the Championships (initially scheduled to take place from July 16-August 1, 2021). FINA will also consult with stakeholders including athletes, coaches, national federations, TV partners and sponsors in order to determine the most appropriate solution.

“Meanwhile, FINA would like to express its sincere thanks to Tokyo 2020 and to Japan for its commitment to hosting a rescheduled Olympic Games. FINA would also like to encourage the aquatics sports family to continue to closely follow the advice of public health authorities in helping prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”



  1. Karen Dowling-Bradley

    Anxiously awaiting the announcement for trials and how ticket holders will be handled

  2. avatar

    Good news on the Olympic dates, but how tone-deaf is FINA for even thinking about holding the Worlds in 2021 instead of 2022? Once again, they are proving that they are just the aquatic version of the greedy idiots at FIFA.