Australia seeks age limit lift for Olympic soccer tournament

SYDNEY (AP) – The Australian Football Federation wants FIFA and the IOC to raise the age limit for the Olympic tournament after the Tokyo Games are postponed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

IOC and Tokyo organizers agreed this week to postpone the Olympics, which was scheduled to open on July 24, for the northern summer of next year. No date has been set and no revised qualification criteria have been formalized.

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Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll and FFA chief executive James Johnson plan to "open discussions" with the world football governing body and the Asian Football Confederation to raise the age limit from 23 to 24 at the Tokyo tournament.

"This would ensure that players who helped their country qualify for the games this year, but who would otherwise not be eligible for the tournament next year because of age restrictions, would have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of represent your country and become Olympic, "said Johnson.

Players under the age of 23 in early 2020 were eligible to play in qualifying. At the Olympics, three players over the age of 23 can be chosen from squads, although they tend to be internationally proven at the highest level.

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Carroll said it is an issue that the IOC and FIFA "will have to resolve".

"We hope this will be a unique event in history, a postponement of the games," he said. “I think that, with good working relationships, together we can overcome all these technical details and ensure that qualified people remain qualified.

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Graham Arnold's team in Australia won a spot in the Asian Under-23 Championship in January, joining other continental teams in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and host of Japan in the Olympic tournament.

Six players involved in Australia's successful qualifying campaign would be out of contention for the Olympics if the tournament age limit does not increase.

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