The Lions are confident that next year’s South Africa tour won’t be undermined by the rescheduling of the Olympics, as the three Tests against the Springboks will kick off in the evening, to avoid clashing with events in Tokyo. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
Sportsmail understands that the international fixtures, in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Soweto on July 24, July 31 and August 7 respectively, will begin at 6pm local time – 1am in Japan.
That should limit any adverse impact of the Olympics being postponed a year, to a slot which directly cuts across the Lions’ series against the reigning world champions.
Sources have indicated that the authorities in South Africa are unconcerned about the fact that this marquee rugby event in their country will take place at a time when the eyes of the sporting world will be on the Far East. They still anticipate British and Irish fans flocking in their thousands, along with strong broadcast viewing figures.
Within the home unions, there is a firm conviction that the tour will be popular and commercially successful, in spite of the Olympics taking over that precious window in the calendar. Lions managing director Ben Calveley said: ‘We are determined to play our part in what will be an extraordinary summer of sport.
‘There should not be any direct clashes between Lions matches and Olympic events given the time difference between South Africa and Tokyo, so fans should not miss out on any action. We are expecting a fantastic series against the world champions.’
Meanwhile, Sportsmail understands that Rugby Australia has notified the Lions hierarchy that they ‘stand ready’ to host a tour next summer, in the event of the coronavirus pandemic threatening South Africa’s ability to stage the eight-match event as planned.
At this stage, there have been many more cases Down Under than in South Africa, where officials are adamant that there is no prospect of any disruption, amid a military-enforced lockdown in the country. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
However, the Australian union – rumored to be struggling with debts of around £30million and fearing a bleak financial outlook – is thought to have indicated their willingness and ability to arrange a back-up 2021 tour at short notice if such an intervention is required.
Meanwhile, England winger Jonny May is struggling to secure a club for next season after his contract negotiations were stalled by a coronavirus. The 29-year-old is yet to sign a new deal with Leicester and clubs are reluctant to carry out business amid the financial uncertainty.
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