2021 Olympics dates revealed

Beth Newman Profile
by AAP & Beth Newman

The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will kick off nearly a year to the day after the 2020 Games were set to start.

The International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday morning (AEDT) that the Tokyo Olmypics would kick off on Monday July 23 2021, running until August 8.

In the original schedule, the Sevens were set to start on day four of the schedule, the Monday after the Opening ceremony, but no new schedule has been confirmed yet.

Moving the tournament by a year almost exactly is hoped to keep disruption to the 2021 international sporting calendar to a minimum.

“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," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

"I would also like to thank the IOC Athletes’ Commission, with whom we have been in constant contact.

The Olympics Sevens set to be played in Tokyo Stadium. Photo"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.”

One major event which is set to clash with the new Olympic dates is the 2021 Lions Tour of South Africa, which starts a day after the Opening Ceremony.

"The priority right now has to be the safety and wellbeing of all those affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic," Ben Calveley, British & Irish Lions Managing Director, told Reuters on Monday.

"We are determined to play our part in what will be an extraordinary summer of sport. There should not be any direct clashes with Lions matches and Olympic events given the time difference between South Africa and Tokyo, so fans should not miss out on any action.

"We are expecting a fantastic series against the world champions."

Springboks star Cheslin Kolbe could be forced to choose between the Olympics and a Lions tour. Photo: Getty ImagesThe clash in dates will narrow the options for the Springbok Sevens side that will compete in Japan, with the likes of wing Cheslin Kolbe, who won bronze in Rio de Janeiro four years ago, otherwise occupied with the 15-man game.

Other players such as loose forward Kwagga Smith and centre Ruhan Nel, who might have hoped to make both teams, will now have to make a choice.

The decision to stick to the dates of the Lions tour, which starts on July 3 with the first of five matches against provincial and invitational sides before the opening test on July 24, at least brings some welcome certainty to arguably the biggest rugby attraction outside of the World Cup.

The World Rugby calendar has many question marks remaining though, with the 2020 Six Nations yet to be completed and the July internationals for this year under threat and likely to be scrapped.