World Beach Games moved from 2021 to 2023 after Olympics postponement

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - ANOC World Beach Games - Beach Soccer - Men's Final - Russia v Brazil - Katara Beach, Doha, Qatar - October 16, 2019 Brazil's Filipe Duarte Silva in action with Russia's Pavel Bazhenov REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

(Reuters) - The 2021 World Beach Games have been moved to 2023 so that nations have time to prepare their athletes for the rescheduled Olympics in 2021, the Association Of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) said on Friday.

The Olympic Games, originally scheduled to start in July this year in Tokyo, have been postponed to July 23-Aug. 8, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 3.29 million people worldwide and killed nearly 233,000.

The ANOC had opened a bidding process to find a host for the Beach Games in January before deciding to move the event to 2023 so National Olympic Committees (NOCs) could also prepare for the Winter Olympics in 2022.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that we continue to listen to our NOCs and deliver an event that is in their best interests,” ANOC’s acting president Robin Mitchell said in a statement.

“With Tokyo 2020 now scheduled for next year and then Beijing 2022 taking place just over six months later, the ANOC Executive Council has decided it would put too much pressure on NOCs to host the World Beach Games between the two Olympic Games.

“Of course, the World Beach Games involves different athletes and different sports from the Olympic Games, but ultimately it is the same NOCs who have to prepare the teams.”

The ANOC said it was also revising the bidding process which will be reopened next year.

The 2019 Doha Beach Games had 36 events in 13 sports, including beach soccer and 4x4 beach volleyball, with Spain topping the medal tally with seven gold medals followed by Brazil and Italy.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge