As has been brewing since IOC Vice President John Coates visit to Japan back in 2017, it’s looking more and more like the 2020 Olympic swimming finals will take place in the morning, just as they did in 2008 when the Games were held in Beijing, China. Today, while celebrating its 110th anniversary, the world swimming governing body of FINA announced it supports morning finals, siding with American TV networks over Japanese broadcasters.
The entire competitive schedule for Tokyo 2020 was released yesterday, but the swimming, artistic swimming and diving events were still listed as ‘to be determined’ in terms of specific dates and times. NBCU, which acquired the broadcast rights to all media platforms back in 2014 in a deal valued at USD 7.65 billion, is pushing for the gold medal races to take place in the morning, which translates to primetime viewing in the United States.
However, the timing of swimming finals is not yet a done deal, as the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee is still putting up a fight. Per our report last month, according to a national survey published recently in Japan, respondents listed swimming as the sport they’re most looking forward to in 2020, followed by gymnastics and marathon running. As such, Japan is pushing for the finals to be in the evening local time.
Per IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, “There is always a balance of desires in terms of timing from different stakeholders. Swimming also has an impact on the other disciplines in the Aquatics Centre and any changes to the swimming schedule has a knock-on effect on the other two.
“There is a little bit of a jigsaw to work through there but from our side there are no issues.”
McConnell also said, “As we know from previous Games like in Beijing and Rio, we do have to make some adjustments to the timings to balance the global audience.” (Inside the Games)
At the last Summer Olympic Games in Brazil, prelims began at 1pm local/10am Eastern each day, with semifinals/finals beginning at 10pm local/7pm Eastern.