• Kyodo


World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said Friday the next athletics world championships, slated for August 2021 in Oregon, could be moved to 2022 following the postponement of this summer’s Olympic Games for about a year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nobody saw this problem (with the virus). … So the flexibility here is very important,” Coe told Japanese media via teleconference.

Should the biennial championships be postponed for a year, he said it is still possible to “have a 2022 and 2023 championships back to back,” while noting it is still speculation at the moment.

The 2023 World Athletics Championships are scheduled to be held in Budapest.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach agreed to push back the Summer Games, with the IOC board approving it on the grounds of safeguarding the health and safety of athletes.

Since then, World Athletics has begun to consider rescheduling next year’s world championships in Eugene and moving them to 2022.

Coe, the chairman of the 2012 London Olympic Organising Committee, expressed his support for the decision to push back the Tokyo Olympics, saying, “It was not an easy decision,” adding everyone did what they could do at every level.

“No decisions will be made until we see the Tokyo dates,” Coe said from his home in London.

Asked his opinion on possibly holding the Tokyo Olympics outside the summer months, Coe said, “I don’t want to speculate on that. Because the meeting, the conference call that took place with the IOC yesterday, had all the international federations on board and we all agreed those conversations will remain private.”

Some international sports federations have suggested holding the games in the spring as a means to avoid the sweltering Tokyo summer.

On the idea of moving the marathon back to the capital from Sapporo should the Olympics be held at a cooler time, a plan endorsed by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, Coe also answered that it is “very early to start speculating.”

Since concerns over uncertainty in the qualification status of athletes emerged following the announcement of the delay of the Olympics, Coe said in addressing the issue, “A large number of athletes are already qualified and if they are qualified, they remain qualified.”

For athletes who have not qualified for the Olympic Games, “a fair process” will be provided, he said, stressing the importance of transparency in the process at the same time.

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