Tokyo organisers considering July 23, 2021 for opening ceremony

The Summer Olympics in Tokyo, postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will likely open on July 23, 2021, according to people familiar with the matter.

The International Olympic Committee and Japanese organisers last week bowed to widespread pressure among athletes, sports federations and national Olympic committees and agreed to postpone the Games to 2021, but left the new date in question. The opening ceremony of the Games had been scheduled for July 24.

The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021.Credit:Getty Images

The IOC said a final decision could come in weeks, but it is now much more likely to be announced earlier, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of guidance issued by

the IOC. Japanese state broadcaster NHK on Saturday also reported July 23, 2021, as the new target.

The IOC will convene an emergency meeting of its decision-making executive board on Sunday to discuss the decision.

Mark Adams, a spokesman for the organisation, gave a one-word answer – "speculation" – when asked about the new date.

The decision to pick an almost identical date to this year's event is not particularly surprising, given the challenges to squeeze the Olympics in an already packed sporting calendar. It also is the best time for the US broadcaster, NBCUniversal, which pays more than $1 billion ($A1.6 billion) for the US media rights to each Olympic Games.

Some federations, including those representing swimming, table tennis, triathlon and equestrian, on a call earlier this week with Thomas Bach, the IOC president, had voiced a preference to hold the Olympics in the spring. That, though, would have led to a clash with the season for major soccer leagues and many of the richest US sports leagues.

Bach, who has endured much criticism over his handling of the crisis, described reorganising the games as a "huge jigsaw puzzle".

Among the issues organisers face are contracts worth billions of dollars with broadcast partners and sponsors as well as how to secure venues and maintain key infrastructure that would need to be mothballed for an extra year.

"A Games has never been postponed before," Bach said. "We have no blueprint, but we are nevertheless confident we can put a beautiful jigsaw puzzle together and will then in the end have a wonderful Olympic Games."

The New York Times

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