Tokyo Olympic organizers announced today the summer games will begin July 23, 2021, almost exactly one year after the originally scheduled date.
Organizers had reportedly considered shifting the games to the spring, but that would have clashed with the European soccer schedule. Moving the Olympics to July 2021 will have an impact on both the Chicago Red Stars and the Chicago Fire, in different ways.
Chicago Red Stars
Obviously, not playing in the Olympics this summer will have a huge impact on the Red Stars, and the NWSL in general. For Chicago, Julie Ertz and Alyssa Naeher were locks to be gone, and Tierna Davidson, Casey Short and Morgan Brian all could have potentially made the USWNT for the games. Head Coach Rory Dames has talked about his three tier plan for the season—pre-Olympics, during the Olympics and post-Olympics. Whenever the NWSL season gets going, Dames and his staff won’t have to worry about what to do when as many as five allocated players leave for National Team duty.
The Red Stars could lose some of those stars in the expansion draft before next season, so playing the games in 2021, rather than 2020 could actually help Chicago. The Red Stars will have all its stars this season, and if some of those players have to leave in the expansion draft, their Olympic call up will be another team’s problem next season.
As for the Fire, Djordje Mihailovic was going to play a big part in helping the U.S. U-23 men qualify for the Olympics for the first time since the 2008 Beijing games. He’s only 21, so he’ll still be eligible to play next summer.
The U.S. men missed out on the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, but for perhaps a better indicator of how long that’s been, take a look at the roster that went to China. It featured youthful stars like Dax McCarty (21), Michael Bradley (21), Jozy Altidore (18), Robbie Rogers (21), Brad Guzan (23), and the leading scorer in Concacaf qualifying, Freddy Adu (19). That team was coached by Piotr Nowak, and also featured Brian McBride, who was 36-years-old at the time but got in on an exemption.