(Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo organisers may have been presented with a new date for the 2020 Olympic Games should they be postponed when World Athletics agreed on Monday to change the dates of its 2021 world championships in the United States.
“World Athletics has already been in discussion with the Oregon 21 Organising Committee regarding the possibility the Olympic Games may move to next year,” athletics’ governing body said in a statement.
The championships in Eugene, Oregon are currently scheduled for Aug 6-15 and would be the first ever to be held in the United States.
“The Organising Committee of Oregon 21 is aware of the possibility of date changes should the 2020 Olympic Games be postponed to the summer of 2021,” organisers said in a statement.
USA Track and Field (USATF), the governing body for the sport in America, said it supported the discussions.
The IOC, easing its position that the Games would go on this year, said over the weekend it would decide in four weeks whether to delay the Olympics. It has been facing rising opposition to a 2020 Games because of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands.
A one-year postponement looked like the best solution, senior IOC member Dick Pound of Canada told Reuters on Monday. That would mean the Games, scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9, were most likely to be held in the summer of 2021.
Canada said on Sunday their athletes would not attend the Games if they are held in 2020 and Australia told athletes to prepare for a 2021 Olympics.
“World Athletics welcomes discussions with the IOC to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and has written to the IOC to share this feedback from the sport,” the governing body said on Monday.
The previous day, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe outlined three reasons why the Games were “neither feasible nor desirable” in 2020 with a July 24 starting date.
“We can no longer expect a fair and level playing field in our sport given the number of athletes who are struggling to train,” Coe said in a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach.
“If we lose the level playing field, we lose the integrity of the competition. Nobody wants this.
“By making a decision on delaying the Games, the IOC can stop the real anguish that athletes are currently facing in these uncertain times and perhaps reduce the possibility of injuries as athletes push themselves.
“No one wants to see the Olympic Games postponed,” Coe added, “(but) we cannot hold the event at all costs, certainly not at the cost of athlete safety.
“I believe the time has come, and we owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can.
Monday’s World Athletics statement noted Oregon organisers have been in touch with key stakeholders.
It added that “they have reassured us they will work with all of their partners and stakeholders to ensure that Oregon is able to host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates should that prove necessary.”
Oregon organisers, who are building a new stadium for the championships, confirmed the discussions and said “we can reassure World Athletics that we will work with them to ensure that Oregon can still host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates should that prove necessary.”
A statement from USATF said the organisation was “fully aligned with World Athletics and Oregon 21.
“We remain committed to working with them, and all our partners and stakeholders to host the best competition in Oregon,” it said.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ian Chadband