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09 Nov 2020

Kitakyushu awarded two gymnastics world champs as Tokyo stages Olympic test event

Kitakyushu in Japan has been named as the host of both the Artistic and Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in 2021.

It will be the first time a single city has staged both events in the same year.

FIG, the international gymnastics federation, announced the host on Sunday as Tokyo staged a special competition as part of its preparations for the 2020 Olympic Games, now in 2021.

The Artistic Gymnastics World Championships will take place after the games, from 17 to 24 October, with the rhythmic competition to follow from 26 to 31 October.

FIG had been seeking a new host for the artistic championships since July when Copenhagen withdrew citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the one-year delay of the Tokyo Olympics.

The international federation had maintained that it had no plans to move the championships despite the rescheduling of the games.

The world championships are customarily held in all years except Olympic years, and Tokyo last staged the artistic competition, in Tokyo, in 2011.

The four nations meeting in the Japanese capital yesterday served as test event for how it could stage the Olympics in the Covid-19 era.

Athletes from Japan, USA, China and Russia took part in the competition, the first such international event to be held at a Tokyo games venue since the postponement was announced in March, and there were no major hitches.

Strict precautions were in place for the 30 gymnasts and the 2,000 spectators at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

In a video message played at the start of the event, IOC president Thomas Bach hailed the “Olympic values” of friendship and solidarity.

He told the athletes: “You are also setting an example that sport can be organised safely even under ongoing health restrictions…

“Giving us confidence in our preparation for future events, in particular of course with an eye to the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.”

The IOC and the Tokyo organising committee remain confident that the Olympics will go ahead on the revised dates of 23 July to 8 August, 2021, with Bach stressing the potential role of rapid testing, vaccines and quarantines.

It has been reported that entry requirements could be relaxed for the near 11,000 athletes expected to compete in the games next year.