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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 April 17 - 23  > 2020 Olympic competition schedule criticized as ‘US TV stations-first’ prioritization
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2019 April 17 - 23 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

2020 Olympic competition schedule criticized as ‘US TV stations-first’ prioritization

April 18, 2019
The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympics and Paralympics on April 16 released details of the 2020 Olympic competition schedule (July 22-August 9). In some sports, unlike other international sports events, the starting time of finals was fixed at midmorning. This has been criticized as putting U.S. TV stations’ interests first.

Those sports included swimming events, nine events in track-and-field athletics such as men/women long jump and 400m hurdles, women’s football, and basketball (men/women). In football tournaments for both genders, while all matches will start in the evenings, only the women’s gold medal match will begin at 11 a.m. on August 6. During summer in Japan, normally the temperature begins climbing early in the morning.

The above-mentioned sports are highly popular in the United States and are expected to win many gold medals. According to the announced 2020 Games schedule, gold medal competitions in these sports will be broadcast live on U.S. TV networks during prime time.

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee explained that the schedule was arranged from the viewpoint of filling seats in all Olympic venues even in the morning. However, there are growing criticisms against the organizing committee that it reflected the International Olympic Committee’s consideration for the demands of U.S. TV companies which pay a huge amount of money for broadcasting rights fees. Furthermore, there is widespread concern among sports organizations that morning finals may affect athletes’ physical conditions.

In past Olympic Games, U.S. TV networks were criticized for using their financial power and influencing the organization of the Games, including changes in competition schedules. Much the same is true for the 2020 Olympics. It is said that the 2020 Games will take place during the peak of summer in accordance with major U.S. broadcasters’ demands as autumn is the season for American football.

The Olympic Charter stipulates that the IOC’s role is to “oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes”. If the IOC allows the term, “Athletes first”, to become an empty slogan, this IOC position will arouse questioning about the value of the Olympic Movement.

Past related articles:
> To hold Olympics during summer in Tokyo disregards athletes’ well being [July 29, 2018]
> 2018 Winter Olympics may prioritize US TV stations over figure skaters [November 10, 2016]

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