British & Irish Lions and SA Rugby working on plan to avoid direct Olympics clash next summer

Simon Collings
AFP via Getty Images

British & Irish Lions and SA Rugby chiefs are formulating a plan to ensure next summer’s Test match kick-off times do not clash with the broadcasting of the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo.

It was confirmed on Monday after a meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board that the Olympics - delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic - will now start on July 23, 2021 and run through to August 8.

The change in date will impact the Lions, as their tour to South Africa takes place at the same time.

The Lions’ first Test against the reigning world champion Springboks is in Johannesburg on July 24.

They meet again in Cape Town seven days later before wrapping up the three-Test series back in Johannesburg on August 7.

Lions and SA Rugby chiefs are working on a plan, however, to ensure the broadcasting of Tests does not clash with the Olympic action in Tokyo.

One possible solution being discussed is Lions Tests kicking off at 6pm South African time, meaning a Sunday 1am start in Tokyo.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Lions and SA Rugby had already jointly agreed to postpone the on-sale dates for ticket ballots in both Europe and South Africa, as well as the supporter travel programme.

The ticket ballot in South Africa and the release of the ticket-inclusive supporter travel packages was initially scheduled for April 2020, with the ticket ballot in Europe set to launch in July.

A decision to delay has now been agreed by both organisations.

“As I am sure our supporters will understand, both unions didn’t think it appropriate to make tickets and our 2021 Tour packages available for purchase at these times,” said Ben Calveley, managing director for the British & Irish Lions.

“We hope to be able to announce new sales dates in the near future, but until then we would like to wish everyone the best of health in these unprecedented times.”

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