HEARD AT HALFTIME: Tokyo 2020 dates confirmed for 2021; domino effect on calendar begins; new Olympic Rings for Tokyo?

News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport:

Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● To the surprise of almost no one, the Tokyo Games will take place exactly a year later, as jointly announced by the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo organizers:

“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.”

Essentially, the Games were postponed on 23 March and re-scheduled by 30 March, in both cases, far faster than the time frames that the IOC and the organizers gave themselves.

From the standpoint of the organizing committee, maintaining the same place on the calendar will save thousands of hours of work that would have been needed to re-figure ordering, training and deployment milestones leading to the Games. The current plan can be maintained, and implemented once the pandemic has subsided. There has still not been a declaration in Japan of a state of emergency from the virus, and “Japan is moving toward approving [anti-flu drug] Avigan’s use for COVID-19 patients following cases in which the medicine has proved effective.”

The question was immediately raised in many quarters about whether the coronavirus threat will be over in enough time to permit not only the Games, but training and qualification. The answer: no one knows. As Abraham Lincoln said in 1861 of a threat of hostilities with Great Britain over a diplomatic incident known as the Trent Affair: “One war at a time.”

Vox Populi: From 1976 four-time Olympic swimming gold medalist John Naber:

“With all the sympathy being shared for the unfortunate Olympians and Olympic hopefuls, (and sponsors and broadcasters and tourists) let’s not forget about the Paralympians and Paralympic Games.”

True, and the dates of the Paralympic Games have also been fixed – as noted above – for 2021.

As reported by Reuters, the Australian Olympic Committee denied that its 22 March announcement that it could not assemble a team for Tokyo 2020 on its original dates was made in “collusion” with either the Canadian Olympic Committee or the IOC: “At no point were either the IOC or COC aware of, or involved in, this process.”

The COC has also denied any outside collaboration in their declaration that it would not attend the Games in 2020. It had been suggested that the Australian statement had been developed at the behest of an IOC member to help pressure the Japanese government to agreement to postpone the Games.

International Federations ● World Athletics quickly issued a statement that noted the new Olympic dates and confirmed that the 2021 World Championships scheduled for Eugene, Oregon, will be moved to 2022, and is in contact with the Commonwealth Games Federation due to the potential conflict in the Birmingham 2022 Games.

While the track & field federation indicated that the planned World U-20 Championships in Nairobi (KEN) are being postponed (for now), USA Track & Field posted a notice that the U.S. U-20 Champs planned for mid-June in Miramar, Florida, are canceled. Also in the U.S., bans on collegiate practices are being extended; the Pac-12 had already eliminated all competitions through the spring and today banned “organized team activities” through 31 May.

FINA posted a statement that it will “examine a revision” of its 2021 World Aquatics Championships, scheduled to take place from 16 July-1 August in Fukuoka, Japan. FINA will “consult with stakeholders including athletes, coaches, national federations, TV partners and sponsors in order to determine the most appropriate solution.”

One group which has only slightly altered its plans, is FISU, the governing body for worldwide university sport. It’s 2021 World University Games will take place in Chengdu (CHN), but moved two days later to 18-29 August, starting nine days after Tokyo closes.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA), still on IOC suspension, has had to postpone its Extraordinary Congress again due to the pandemic, possibly all the way to the end of the year. Its status was supposed to be revisited by the IOC after the Tokyo Games, and that’s now more than a year away. AIBA’s internal governance process may be improved by the measures taken at its Congress, but its dismal financial situation is yet to be repaired.

Gymnastics ● The coronavirus has also slowed the hearings schedule in the many actions vs. USA Gymnastics, relating to the Larry Nassar abuse scandal. A hearing scheduled for Tuesday at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana to consider the federation’s Disclosure Statement for its reorganization plan – which could lead to a vote by claimants on the $217.5 million settlement offer – has been postponed until the matter can be heard in a live court with all interested parties present.

A side matter dealing with USA Gymnastics’ objection to “misclassified claims” is scheduled for a telephonic hearing tomorrow.

At the BuZZer ● There isn’t a lot to laugh about in these difficult times, but reader Jan Fambro noted there is still humor out there, as Brands of the World (@brandsotw) shared on Instagram a new look (via @madovermarketing_mom) for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic rings (as shown above).

Social distancing indeed!