Sky Sports are understood to have secured the rights to broadcast the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa and the kick-off times are scheduled so there will be no clashes with Olympic events next summer, Telegraph Sport can reveal. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
The International Olympic Committee confirmed on Monday that the rescheduled Tokyo Games will now start on July 23 next year – just one day before the Lions’ first Test against the Springboks in Johannesburg.
The Games will now conclude one day after the Lions’ final Test in the same city – ensuring that there is a complete overlap with the three-Test series – including direct clashes with the two ‘Super Saturday’ Olympic series of events.
However, it is understood that the broadcasting deal was struck earlier this year as part of a lucrative deal with the South African Rugby Union so one of the main sources of revenue for the tour will not have been affected by the overlap with the Olympics. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
And it is understood that the Test matches will have a kick-off time of 6pm in South Africa (5pm in the UK). As Japan is seven hours ahead of South Africa it will ensure there is no direct clash with any Olympic action as kick-off will be at 1am in Tokyo. Sky declined to comment.
It is thought that the Lions are also optimistic that the clash will not adversely affect sponsorship deals for the tour, which begin on July 3, 2021, although the market is expected to be much tougher given the economic impact of global lockdown to combat the pandemic.
It is also highly unlikely that any players or coaches selected for Olympic Sevens sides would come into contentions for Lions selection by head coach Warren Gatland.
However, it may force Springbok players such as Kwagga Smith and Cheslin Kolbe, who had made themselves available for Olympic Sevens selection, to reconsider their decision.
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