Michael Jackson has postponed the first four nights of his "This Is It" tour, which was due to begin at London's O2 Arena on July 8th this year. The opening night has been pushed back until July 13th while the other three rescheduled dates will now take place in March 2010.
Promoters have been eager to prevent any claims that the delay has anything to do with Jackson's health, or indeed several impending lawsuits. An official statement explains that organisers need more time to set up the mammoth production:
"Due to the sheer magnitude of the "This Is It" concerts at the O2 Arena promoters and producers AEG Live and Kenny Ortega, Michael’s directorial partner and creative collaborator have elected to move back a few of the opening shows in order to meet the challenges presented by such a massive and technically complex show... We wanted to ensure that all of Michael's fans attending the concerts get the same quality in staging and level of entertainment."
In a bid to appease those travelling from outside London and the UK, AEG expressed their hope that those with tickets would have enough time to change their travel plans.
"We do not want anyone to miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience. We understand the inconvenience this may have caused and for this reason we have secured some excellent hotel deals for Michael Jackson fans traveling to London on these rescheduled dates."
The dates have been rescheduled as follows:
The July 8th show will now take place on 13th July 2009
The July 10th show will now take place on 1st March 2010
The July 12th show will now take place on 3rd March 2010
The July 14th show will now take place on 6th March 2010
Full refunds are available to those who can't make the rescheduled dates.
Jackson fans who hold tickets to the rescheduled concerts have started on online petition in an attempt to convince organisers to rethink the decision. Promoters still maintain that the decision to reschedule has nothing to do with Jackson's health, despite rumours that he will be having surgery for skin cancer at that time, and was spotted leaving a medical centre in Beverly Hills.