(ATR) FINA says morning finals will be good for the sport, in a decision which appeases U.S. rightsholder NBC but goes against the wishes of Tokyo 2020.
The IOC approved the competition schedule for the Tokyo Games on Wednesday – but there was a blank for swimming, diving and artistic swimming events.
In a 13-word statement on the issue, FINA said Thursday: "On Tokyo 2020, FINA agreed with conducting the swimming finals in the morning". The decision came at a meeting of the FINA Bureau.
IOC coordination commission chair John Coates told reporters in Lausanne that the deal was done to stage morning finals, saying it was about striking the right balance for the sports program.
Coates, IOC director general Christophe de Kepper and sports director Kit McConnell were asked to resolve the issue. FINA meetings this week in the Olympic capital meant decisions on the aquatics situation had to wait. No approval is now needed by the IOC’s ruling body.
Speaking to reporters in Lausanne on Wednesday, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori had emphasized that evening finals for the Japanese public were desirable. He also noted that compromises had been made across the sports competition schedule.
Staging morning swimming finals in Tokyo will allow influential U.S. Olympic broadcaster NBC to screen them in a prime-time slot.
FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said the federation’s technical committee had already made a draft schedule on the swimming finals and other aquatics events. Detailed timings of events for each of the 33 sports will be announced in the first half of 2019.
"In Beijing we already had the finals in the morning. Now we have an additional day of swimming. We shall see how it is done. At the end of the day we need to support our sport. We are stakeholders in the Olympic movement," he told reporters on the day of FINA's 110th anniversary and the inauguration of its new headquarters in Lausanne.
Commenting on the decision, Marculescu insisted the morning finals at the Beijing 2008 Olympics had been successful.
"The swimmers perform in a good way. Some even say it is better for them in the morning. Finals for swimming in the morning can provide better presentation of the sport, of the swimmers themselves," he said.
Among other items approved at the FINA Bureau meeting were adoption of a strategic plan for 2018-2021 and a FINA policy regarding good governance and protocol.
"We arrived at this stage in a very healthy and positive situation, both in terms of the importance of aquatics in the international sports movement and regarding FINA's economical sustainability," said FINA president Julio Maglione.
"In a time of celebration, it is important to recall that FINA exists to primarily serve its 209 National bodies around the world. We are a big aquatic family and together we are making the necessary steps and hard work to make our sport more recognised and more popular on a global scale."
Written and Reported by Mark Bissonin Lausanne, with additional reporting from Ed Hula
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