Tokyo Olympics 2021: Qualified athletes will retain spots, rescheduled date to be announced in April

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced all athletes who had already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before they were postponed will keep their places when the showpiece takes place in 2021. 

Around 57 percent of the 11,000 scheduled participants for the Tokyo Games had already qualified when the IOC postponed the Olympics until 2021 due to the coronavirus.

On top of that, the IOC confirmed in a conference call with 100 National Olympic Committee representatives from around the world that a decision on when the Games will take place can be expected within the next  three weeks, with early reports suggesting they'll take place in April to avoid the hottest weeks of the Tokyo summer. 

However the Japanese government implied August 2021 was also likely.

The Games were initially scheduled to take place between July 24-August 9. 

New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) chief executive Kereyn Smith is pleased with the further clarity around next year's Games. 

"This is fantastic news for our New Zealand Team athletes," said Smith.

"We're thankful the IOC will be honouring existing athlete quota spots. A huge amount of work went into our sports and athletes earning those spots and we’re pleased they will be retained.

"We also look forward to learning the exact date of the Games. Our athletes have reacted extremely well to the postponement of the Games and having a date to work towards will allow them to carry out the meticulous planning and the training required for an Olympic Games performance."

NZ nomination and selection criteria for all but three sports will be redrafted and new qualification events will be confirmed by the IOC and IFs (International Federations) once dates are set for the Games.

Smith acknowledged the huge task of Games organisers and thanked them for their ongoing work.

"It is an enormous challenge to reschedule the Olympic Games," Smith added. "The task is monumental but it's great to see details coming to life and we are already looking forward to being in Tokyo in 2021."

So far, 12 Kiwi athletes have been confirmed to take place in the Olympics with sailors
Blair Tuke, Peter Burling, Molly Meech, Alex Maloney, Sam Meech, Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson, canoeists Luuka Jones and Callum Gilbert, shooters Natalie Rooney and Chloe Tipple, along with Taekwondo representative Tom Burns all booking their tickets to Tokyo.

Boxer David Nyika has also qualified, but a  hold is being placed on nominations and selections to the New Zealand Team until a date for the Games and further information is received.

If the Games do take place in April, it will be a fine line between events for Burling and Tuke who are due to compete at the America's Cup in March.