Olympics Postponement Leaves Gap In Tennis Calendar

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

With the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee releasing a joint statement Tuesday announcing the postponement of this year’s Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to “a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021,” due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, it leaves a new gap in the tennis calendar both for players who would have competed in Tokyo and for any postponed tournaments that might be looking to move, which would be far from certain right now.

It prompted New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey to write on Twitter: “The decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics a year until summer 2021 is a logistical nightmare but the right conclusion. Delaying until later this year was not a safe enough bet. 2022 was too long on hold & unjust for this wave of athletes.”

Later, in an email interview with Tennis TourTalk, Clarey said it was “too soon” to predict the shakeout caused by the Olympic Games postponement. “I have heard that Wimbledon is highly unlikely to move into (the Olympic) slot because it is too close to their regular date (June 29 to July 12) and would not give them much added benefit.

“Still not ruled out, however, and it seems clear to me that some tournaments will attempt to move into that Olympic window this summer if the tour is back up and running, which is far, far from certain.”

The Olympic tennis competition was slated for July 25 to August 2 at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo. Now, with it off the calendar for this year, an immediate question is this: What kind of impact it will have on the ATP and WTA tournaments currently scheduled for the same week – the ATP 250s in Atlanta, Ga. (U.S.) and Kitzbühel, Austria, for the men and the WTA 125Ks in New Haven, Conn. (U.S.), and Karlsruhe, Germany for the women?

When Clarey was asked by Tennis TourTalk on Tuesday about the rescheduling of the Olympic tennis tournament for 2021, he said: “My guess on the Olympic tennis date in 2021 is that because of European and North American TV interest it will remain in the summer and that the calendar will resemble a ‘normal’ Olympic year for tennis with the Olympics falling between Wimbledon and the US Open. But we cannot yet rule out a spring date entirely, which might work better for the Japanese and certainly would be better for the athletes in terms of the temperatures.

“Still, I expect it to happen right around the same time of year it was scheduled in 2020.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Clarey offered this 2021 update with Tennis TourTalk“Sounds like based on (IOC President) Thomas Bach’s press conference this morning that a spring date for the Olympics is a possibility. Works better for Japan and IOC elections, but I still think the rights holders will push hard for the summer and I think the odds are still in favor of a similar calendar to 2020.”