U.S. TV broadcasters dominate Tokyo 2020 Olympics schedule
In this Aug. 12 photo, NBC cameraman and former swimmer Ken Walsh, of the United States, films the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee is being accused of scheduling competitions in accordance with the wishes of U.S. broadcasters. | Rebecca Blackwell / AP

TOKYO—On April 16, the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games released details of the 2020 Olympic competition schedule (set for July 22-August 9, 2020). For some sports, unlike at other international sporting events, the starting time of finals was fixed at mid-morning local Tokyo time. This has been criticized as putting U.S. TV stations’ interests ahead of local attendees and athletes.

Those sports included swimming events, nine events in track-and-field athletics such as men’s and women’s long jump and 400m hurdles, women’s football, and basketball for both women and men. 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 the U.S. is 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 claimed the schedule was arranged from the viewpoint of filling seats in all Olympic venues even in the morning. However, there are growing criticisms that decision actually appears to reflect 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 to influence 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.”


Shimbun Akahata
Shimbun Akahata

Shimbun Akahata (しんぶん赤旗) is the daily newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party.