Tokyo Olympics: 6 months out and murmurs of cancellation

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Picture Supply : AP

A person walks by the brand of Tokyo Olympic Video games deliberate to begin in the summertime of 2021, in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 19

The Tokyo Olympics are to open in six months on July 23 and organizers don’t have any public program deliberate to mark the milestone.

There may be an excessive amount of uncertainty for that proper now.

Tokyo and different elements of Japan are beneath an emergency order as a result of of surging coronavirus circumstances with about 4,500 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

As an alternative of a countdown celebration, the main focus is on the virus and hypothesis across the Olympics being canceled. Ought to they happen throughout a spreading pandemic — vaccine or no vaccine? Organizers say they are going to with actual particulars but to be revealed.

It has been this manner because the Olympics had been postponed virtually 10 months in the past. There are all the time extra questions than solutions.

Q: When will a ultimate determination be introduced about holding the Olympics?

A: The Worldwide Olympic Committee and native organizers are adamant they are going to occur. Mark the date — March 25. That is when the torch relay, closely sponsored by Coca-Cola and Toyota, begins from northern Japan, crisscrossing the nation for 4 months with 10,000 runners headed to Tokyo. It is exhausting to think about the relay going forward, however the Olympics being canceled. Bear in mind, it was in late March final yr that the Olympics had been postponed.

Q: Current polls present 80% in Japan need the Olympics canceled or postponed. So why is Japan and the Worldwide Olympic Committee pushing forward?

A: A secret is the billions already “sunk” into the occasion, and the earnings Tokyo will generate for the IOC. The IOC will get virtually three-quarters of its earnings from promoting TV rights. One other 18% is from sponsors. Not like different sports activities companies just like the NBA or English soccer, the IOC has solely two main occasions — each 4 years — to depend on.

Solely 5 Olympics have ever been canceled, all throughout wartime: the 1916, 1940 and 1944 Summer time Olympics, and Winter Video games in 1940 and 1944. However that was earlier than huge cash was concerned.

Japan should additionally save face. It has spent no less than $25 billion making ready for the Olympics. As well as, China will host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Japan would hate to cede the stage to China.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is framing the Olympics as “a proof of human victory towards the coronavirus.”

Q: Will these Olympics look completely different?

A: Virtually definitely. First, athletes will likely be advised to reach later than traditional, and go away early. The concept is to maintain the Athletes Village sparsely populated. It is exhausting to think about a lot interplay between athletes, the general public and the media. Fewer athletes than traditional are more likely to seem within the opening ceremony. Japanese media are reporting solely 6,000 Olympic athletes will participate. The Olympics contain 11,000 athletes.

Nonetheless, from the angle of the tv viewer, every part could look just like earlier Olympics. The venues are principally TV levels, and they appear the identical from one Olympics to the subsequent. Followers are actually accustomed to viewing sports activities occasions in empty stadiums.

One caveat. Ticket gross sales account for $800 million in earnings for native organizers. No followers means misplaced income and extra prices. These prices should be absorbed by Japanese authorities entities. A number of Japanese authorities audits have estimated Olympic spending at $25 billion or extra. All however $6.7 billion is public cash. Native sponsors have additionally poured in $3.5 billion. Will they get a lot “bang for his or her buck?”

Q: Why all of the skeptical feedback just lately from a number of insiders — primarily senior IOC member Dick Pound and Japanese minister Taro Kono.

A: Pound and Kono each answered the questions they had been requested.

Pound was requested in regards to the Olympics happening. “I can’t make sure as a result of the continuing elephant within the room could be the surges within the virus.” He additionally instructed athletes ought to be a excessive precedence for a vaccine as a result of they function “position fashions.” That contradicted IOC President Thomas Bach, who has stated athletes shouldn’t be a precedence.

Kono, a member of Suga’s cupboard, acknowledged in an interview that the Olympics are unsure.

“I ought to say something is feasible,” Kono stated.

Kono is the previous protection minister and is now the minister for administrative and regulatory reform. On Monday, he was put in cost of Japan’s vaccine program.

“It might go both approach,” he added of the Olympics.

Q: Will vaccinations be required?

A: Not clear. Bach has urged all “members” to be vaccinated. However he is stated athletes won’t be required to. However that was the IOC talking. The Japanese authorities might override this with completely different guidelines for entry and necessities for quarantines.

Q: I see the Australian Open is having issues. What can the IOC be taught there?

A: About 1,200 gamers, employees and media have arrived for subsequent month’s Australian Open. All members had been required to return adverse COVID-19 assessments earlier than boarding flights for Australia. As of Tuesday, 9 on these on the flights examined constructive when touchdown in Australia. That has compelled 72 gamers right into a 14-day lockdown — since they had been uncovered on flights — in addition to all different passengers on these flights.

The Olympics and Paralympics will contain 15,400 athletes. And tens of hundreds of employees, officers, judges, media and broadcasters. And dozen of venues. Athletes are certain to be affected, jeopardizing years of coaching and, for many, their solely shot at a medal.

Australian Open match director Craig Tiley stated his experiences can educate Japan and the IOC find out how to take care of issues and setbacks.

“I believe there’s so much to be realized from this expertise for the Olympic Video games,” Tiley stated. “Each single day we change into higher at it as a result of we have realized from what occurred yesterday — the errors you make.”

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