Women's Sport: Organisers recognise Olympics postponement is an "unprecedented challenge"

Many in the athletics world breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced last week that this summer’s Tokyo Olympics had been postponed to next year.

Team GB’s World Champion heptathlete Katarina Johnson Thompson was one of the most vocal critics of the IOC’s delayed response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the announcement the Games would be postponed to 2021 the gold medal hopeful took to Instagram writing: “it’s heartbreaking news…but it’s for all the right reasons and the safety of everyone!”.

The relief of athletes like Johnson Thompson is not mirrored by Olympic organisers, however, who must now set to the task of reorganising the whole competition – a feat that normally takes around seven years.

The Tokyo 2020 taskforce met on Thursday to discuss how to approach reorganising the biggest sporting event on the planet.

Chief executive of the organising committee Toshiro Muto said the bill for postponing the competition would “probably be massive”. New dates for the Olympics have not yet been announced and this will be the first task for the committee as they start the process they began in 2013 all over again.

“We have to decide when the opening ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics will be. Without that, there are a lot of things we simply cannot do,” Muto added.

Former Japanese Prime Minister and President of the Tokyo 2020 postponement taskforce, Yoshiro Mori likened the reorganisation of the Olympics to a game of rugby.

“We are going to have to cram into about six months, what we achieved in seven years so it will be difficult.

“To use rugby lingo, we now need to string phase after phase, after phase. It will not be a game of packs.”

Muto added his own comparison, “The IOC told us the organisation of Tokyo 2020 is an Olympic record, and we hope to set another record with this new start we have embarked on”.

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