The women’s Olympic gold medal match between Sweden and Canada is set to be moved from 11am local to time to 9pm following concerns from players about the searing midday heat, when temperatures in the Japanese capital can exceed 30 degrees Celsius.
There will also be a last-minute venue change, moving the final from the National Stadium in Tokyo to the International Stadium in nearby Yokohama amid complaints about the playing surface.
The National Stadium, newly built on the site of Tokyo’s original 1964 Olympic stadium, has been the centrepiece for The Games this summer and has been hosting the athletics since last weekend. The field has been pockmarked by days of javelin, discus, hammer and shot put events, causing a deterioration in its condition for playing football on.
The Guardian has reported that both teams had concerns about the health and safety of the players in the heat, in addition to the quality of the pitch.
Had the final gone ahead at 11am as planned, players would also have had to come to terms with a significant schedule change in terms of their preparations as all previous matches at the competition have kicked off between 4.30pm and 8.30pm local time.
It is said that the original 11am broadcast time was chosen as a result of requests from American broadcasters wanted to show the match on prime time TV back home – the time difference would have made for a 10pm kick-off in the United States.
The USWNT were hot favourites to win the gold medal at theses Olympics, having named a squad full of World Cup winners. But they struggled from the beginning, losing heavily to Sweden in their opening game, and eventually getting knocked by Canada in the semi-finals.
In the end, the U.S. had to settled for bronze, beating Australia 4-3 in the bronze medal match.
For Sweden and Canada, one will win Olympic gold for the first time.