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OLYMPICS

Danish Olympics hopes dampened – for now

The head of the Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) said that while it is "exciting" that the head of the International Olympic Committee has encouraged Copenhagen to make a bid, the city is still years away from being ready.

Danish Olympics hopes dampened – for now
Crown Prince Frederik, an IOC board member, speaks at the Sports Confederation of Denmark conference Thursday. Photo: Sara Gangsted/Scanpix
Reforms announced in December by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sparked hope that the Olympic torch would come to Denmark. 
 
But at a Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) meeting on Thursday, national sport leaders seemed to pour cold water on the idea. At least for now. 
 
IOC president Thomas Bach was in Copenhagen for a DIF congress, where he reiterated that Denmark could have a real chance to host the Games. 
 
 
“Agenda 2020 [the bidding reform, ed.] opens the door for smaller countries and cities by reducing the criteria on, for example, stadiums. We don’t need so many permanent sport arenas and I can only encourage Copenhagen to seriously consider the possibility of going for it,” Bach said, as quoted by Jyllands-Posten
 
But DIF chairman Niels Nygaard, while saying it was “of course exciting that the IOC president named it directly”, said Copenhagen is unlikely to be ready to host the world’s largest sporting event anytime soon. 
 
“Do we have sufficient facilities to accommodate the Olympics? On that point alone, in my view we need to look much further out into the future before we can talk about this seriously,” he said, according to Jyllands-Posten. 
 
In December, the IOC approved changes to the bidding process that will make it easier and more affordable for smaller countries to compete to host the Olympics. That led to speculation that Denmark might team up with Sweden and Norway for a future bid, or even back Germany for Hamburg’s bid to host the 2024 Games. 
 
Nygaard said that even with the IOC changes, Denmark is still a decided long-shot to land the Olympics. 
 
“IOC has clearly made it possible for more [countries] to bid, but getting from there to making it realistic is something else entirely, at least in the short and medium term. There are many organizers ready in Germany, Paris, Rome, Boston and other places that can offer significantly more,” the DIF chairman said. 
 
When the IOC announced its reform in December, Gerhard Heiberg, a Norwegian member of the IOC, said he hoped Copenhagen would lead the way for a Scandinavian Olympic bid. 
 
“You can easily imagine Copenhagen going together with Malmö or Gothenburg, or even Oslo, and I am positive that a Scandinavian bid would be taken seriously,” Heiberg told Politiken. 
 
Heiberg is one of six Scandinavians among the IOC’s 104 members. Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik is also an IOC member and participated in Thursday’s DIF congress. 

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OLYMPICS

Denmark joins calls to postpone Tokyo Olympics until pandemic over

Denmark has joined the chorus of countries, including Norway, the UK, Croatia, and Brazil, calling for the Olympics to be postponed for a year.

Denmark joins calls to postpone Tokyo Olympics until pandemic over
Morten Mølholm, Director General of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark, at a press conference, back in 2018. Photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix
Morten Mølholm, Director General of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF), said that he believed the Summer Olympics in Tokyo should be held in 2021 instead.  
 
“We have great respect for the complicated situation the IOC are in, because the Olympics are a big thing,” he told Danish state broadcaster DR. “But we are having a hard time seeing us having an Olympics in the current situation. That's why we think the right solution is to postpone them.” 
 
The decision comes after Norway on Friday sent a formal letter to the IOC, calling for them to postpone the games until the the pandemic is “under firm control on a national scale”. 
 
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The IOC on Sunday responded to mounting pressure with a statement promising to “step up scenario planning” for the games. IOC President Thomas Bach last week said it was “premature” to consider postponing them. The DIF on Wednesday echoed this position, saying that it was “too early to decide”. 
 
But Mølholm told DR on Sunday that even putting the risk of reigniting the pandemic on hold, he did not see how an Olympics held in today's conditions could be fair on athletes. 
 
“At the moment we are in a totally chaotic situation, where many athletes do not have the opportunity to train, and participate in qualifying rounds. Therefore, the only right thing is to create clarity about the situation by taking the decision to postpone it.” 
 
“We do not believe that we can have a fair Olympics this year, as the conditions will be so different for the different athletes.” 
 
He said that difficulties re-booking venues would probably make it practically difficult to postpone by only a few months, making a postponement of a full year the best option. 
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