Sweden vs. Canada gold-medal match moved due to heat concerns

The Tokyo 2020 women’s Olympic soccer gold-medal match between Canada and Sweden has been moved from its 11 a.m. local time on Friday (10 p.m. ET, Thursday) start to 9 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET, Friday) after both teams expressed concern about playing in the Japanese heat.

As well as changing the time, the host city for the match was also switched from Tokyo to Yokohama and the men’s bronze-medal match was moved to 6 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET, Friday).

“In order to continue to provide the best possible conditions for the players, and having taken into consideration the impact of weather conditions at the Olympic Stadium over the last few days, it has been confirmed that this match will now take place at 21:00 at the International Stadium Yokohama,” a statement said.

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“As a result, the Olympic Football men’s bronze medal match originally scheduled for 8 p.m. at Saitama on Aug. 6 will be advanced to 6 p.m. at the same venue.”

Trackside temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) during the week and are expected to be around 36 degrees (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit) when the players take to the pitch on Friday.

“It feels good that our desire for a later kick-off has been well received, and that we now how a match time that is better suited to the players in terms of the heat,” the head of Sweden’s women’s team Marika Domanski Lyfors said in a statement.

“It’s not just a good decision, it’s a very, very, very, very, very good decision,” Sweden manager Peter Gerhardsson said at a news conference on Thursday.

The move was also welcomed by the players.

“I know this group is so good at adapting, so we were ready for the 11 a.m. kick-off,” Canada’s Ashley Lawrence said. “But I think it’s great that we can play at 9 p.m. Just with the weather and for both teams, it’s going to make for a better game.”

The Swedish Football Association confirmed on Wednesday it had written to the International Olympic Committee with Canada to request the move.

“I myself have been in contact with FIFA today and written to them, so that’s about where the situation is today,” Lyfors told reporters.

“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.”

Sweden qualified for the gold-medal match after beating Australia 1-0 in the semifinal while Canada beat the United States women’s national team for the first time since 2001 to secure their place.