Olympics to delay start of football season

LONDON - The start of the 2012/13 English football season will be delayed so as not to clash with the 2012 Olympics, London Games chiefs said on Thursday.

The Olympics start on July 27 and end on August 12, while the Premier League season traditionally opens with the Community Shield curtain-raiser in early August.

Organising committee chief executive Paul Deighton said he had held talks with the Football Association (FA) and Premier League to discuss the matter.

"We have been in discussions with all the sports bodies responsible for sports schedules in 2012 and we are on track to meet our obligation," Deighton told reporters at the end of a four-day visit by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to inspect London's progress.

Pushed on whether the Premier League and FA would agree to a slight delay, Deighton replied: "Yes."

Olympic host cities agree to abide by IOC requirements that no other major sporting events take place at the same time.

The FA said on Thursday they were in talks with the London organising committee (LOCOG) about fixing a date for the Community Shield, traditionally played at Wembley Stadium between the league champions and FA Cup winners.

Wembley will host the gold-medal match in the Olympic soccer tournament on the final weekend of the Games.


The Olympics could also have implications for the cricket schedule. England are hosting Australia in the Ashes in 2012 with the first match of the series usually reserved for Lord's which will be the venue for Olympic archery.

Denis Oswald, the head of the IOC's co-ordination commission, said he was happy with London's progress.

"Two years before the Games you are at the turning point from conception and construction to the operational phase," Oswald told reporters.

"We are entering a crucial period in the coming months but we are convinced that London will have a very successful Games."

IOC president Jacques Rogge toured the 2012 Olympic Stadium earlier this week and met Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron.

Oswald played down the 27 million pounds of cuts to the Games budget recently announced by Britain's new coalition government, saying: "The new government is fully backing and supporting the Games."

Asked to compare London's progress with past host cities, Oswald described it as "top of the league" after a dig at Athens.

"The president helped install the 2,012th seat in the London stadium on Monday," Oswald said. "I did the same in Athens but the key difference was that I did it three weeks before the start of the Olympics."

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