LONDON (Reuters) – Global athletics chief Sebastian Coe has indicated that next year’s Eugene world championships could slip to 2022 as a consequence of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics being postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Already we’ve been in discussion with the organising committee in Oregon about shifting the date and maybe even discussing moving it to 2022 to accommodate the need for an Olympic Games next year,” Coe told Sky Sports television on Tuesday.
“We all have to be flexible, we’re living in very uncertain times and this is going to take a lot of thinking about,” added the World Athletics president.
Any decision on dates must wait, however, for the International Olympic Committee to state exactly when the Tokyo Games will take place.
Tuesday’s IOC announcement said the July 24-Aug. 9 Games would be held no later than the summer of 2021.
Moving the world championships to 2022 might also suit Eugene since it also hosts the the U.S. Olympic trials for athletics which are almost certain to be moved to 2021 and staging both events in the same year could challenge the resources of the Oregon city of about 170,000.
Coe, who chaired the London 2012 organising committee, said the decision to postpone Tokyo was “by a distance” the right one even if sorting out the calendar would be a huge task.
“The world is in a really difficult, dangerous situation. Sport can be no different and the decision the IOC took today, together with Tokyo, was absolutely the right decision,” said the 1980 and 1984 Olympic 1,500 metres gold medallist.
“We wrote to the International Olympic Committee on Sunday after I’d met with all my continental presidents, I’d spoken to my council and at length to the athletes.
“And it was really the athletes for us that made this decision the right decision.
“If you are fighting to preserve the integrity of competition, which is really an Olympic value, then to have athletes that are simply locked in their houses and not able to train or use public facilities… then clearly the integrity of the competition was going to disappear.”
Coe said athletes needed certainty and not to be put in a dangerous position where they risked breaking government or public health authority lockdown edicts just to train.
“Actually I think it’s come as a huge relief to them. I think they were under a lot of emotional stress to continue in almost intolerable situations,” he said.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, additional reporting by Gene Cherry, editing by Ken Ferris)