Canada Soccer, Sweden ask IOC to reschedule women's gold-medal game due to heat

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Canada's Janine Beckie, left, battles the U.S.'s Crystal Dunn for the ball during their Olympic semifinal match. Canada, which won the game, is now asking organizers to move the championship match off its original midday start time due to heat. (Andre Penner/The Associated Press - image credit)
Canada's Janine Beckie, left, battles the U.S.'s Crystal Dunn for the ball during their Olympic semifinal match. Canada, which won the game, is now asking organizers to move the championship match off its original midday start time due to heat. (Andre Penner/The Associated Press - image credit)

Canada Soccer is backing Sweden's request to reschedule their women's gold-medal game from its current start time of 11 a.m. Tokyo time on Friday because of concerns about excessive heat.

The national organization cited the "health and safety" of its players as the reason for its position, as heat continues to play a factor at the Olympics.

The temperature at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium at 9 a.m. Wednesday for the men's decathlon 100 metres was 33 C, but felt like 47 C with the humidity.

"Canada Soccer is also in support of changing the kickoff time of the gold medal match at the Tokyo 2020 Women's Olympic Football Tournament to ensure the health and safety of our players," the organization said in a statement.

The teams are proposing a new time of Friday at 4 a.m. ET (5 p.m. in Tokyo), according to CBC Sports' Kelly VanderBeek.

Canada's quarter-final against Brazil and semifinal against the U.S. both started at that time.

However, the proposed change would clash with Friday night's track competition since both are scheduled to take place at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium.

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The Canadian Olympic Committee also said in a statement it supported a possible move.

"The COC supports Canada Soccer's request to change the time of the women's soccer final. It is in the best interest of the athletes."

Marika Domanski-Lyfors, the head coach of the Swedish team, told Reuters she's been in contact with FIFA about possibly moving the game to a different time.

"It is primarily about the players' health we're thinking about and trying to change the time of the game. There's a pretty big difference between playing in the afternoon or evening, and we are very much exposed to the warmth and heat," she said.

The Swedish Football Association also said it wrote to the International Olympic Committee together with Canada.

Olympic organizers previously pushed back the start time of tennis matches following athlete complaints.

1st Olympic final for Canada

Canada qualified for its first-ever appearance in the Olympic women's soccer final with a 1-0 victory over the United States on Monday at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium.

Sweden defeated Australia 1-0 in the other semi, in a game that kicked off at 8 p.m. Monday local time at International Stadium Yokohama.

Sweden holds the No. 5 position in the latest FIFA rankings, three spots ahead of Canada.

"We definitely have some mixed results against Sweden," Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan said after her team's semifinal win. "Sometimes we win, sometimes we don't get the result that we want.

"It'll be a good match, a good final."

The Canadian team was expected to train and hold a formal media availability on Thursday.

Sweden won silver at the 2016 Games in Rio. Canada won bronze five years ago and also took third place at the 2012 London Games.

The women's bronze-medal game between the U.S. and Australia was scheduled for a 5 p.m. start on Thursday at Kashima.

Both men's medal games were scheduled to kick off at night.

Mexico and Japan will meet for bronze Friday (8 p.m. local) at Saitama Stadium. The men's final between Brazil and Spain will be played Saturday (8:30 p.m. local) in Yokohama.

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