Olympics organizers are adamant the Tokyo Olympics will occur, however that is what they have been saying final yr, too.
TOKYO, Japan — The Tokyo Olympics are to open in six months on July 23. Apparently, Tokyo organizers haven’t any public program deliberate to mark the milestone. There may be an excessive amount of uncertainty for that proper now.
Tokyo and different components of Japan are underneath an emergency order due to surging coronavirus instances 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’ll with precise particulars but to be revealed.
It has been this fashion for the reason that Olympics have been postponed virtually 10 months in the past. There are all the time extra questions than solutions. Listed below are just a few.
Q: When will a ultimate choice be introduced about holding the Olympics?
A: The Worldwide Olympic Committee and native organizers are adamant they’ll 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 laborious to think about the relay going forward, however the Olympics being canceled.
However bear in mind this. On March 12 of final yr, Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto insisted that Worldwide Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers have been “not contemplating cancellation or a postponement, completely by no means.” The Video games have been postponed 12 days later.
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 key’s 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 season Olympics, and winter video games in 1940 and 1944. However that was earlier than massive cash was concerned.
Japan should additionally save face. It has spend a minimum of $25 billion getting ready the Olympics. As well as, China and Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in 2022. Japan would hate to cede the stage to China.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is framing the Olympics as “a proof of human victory in opposition to the coronavirus.”
Q: Will these Olympics look totally different?
A: Virtually definitely. First, athletes will probably be advised to reach later than ordinary, and go away early. The thought is to maintain the Athletes’ Village sparsely populated. It is laborious to think about a lot interplay between athletes, the general public and the media. Fewer athletes than ordinary are prone to seem within the opening ceremony. Japan media are reporting solely 6,000 Olympic athletes will participate. The Olympics contain 11,000 athletes.
Nevertheless, from the angle of the tv viewer, all the things might look much like earlier Olympics. The venues are principally TV phases, and so they look the identical from one Olympics to the subsequent. Followers at the moment are 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 Japan 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 to the video games. 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 have been requested.
Pound was requested in regards to the Olympics going down. “I can’t make sure as a result of the continued elephant within the room can be the surges within the virus.” He additionally prompt 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 mentioned athletes shouldn’t be a precedence.
Kono, a member of Suga’s cupboard, acknowledged in an interview that the Olympics are doubtful.
“I ought to say something is feasible,” Kono mentioned.
Kono is the previous protection minister and is now the minister for administrative and regulatory reform. On Monday he was put in command 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 “individuals”to be vaccinated. However he is mentioned athletes won’t be required to. However that was the IOC talking. The Japanese authorities might override this with totally different guidelines for entry and necessities for quarantines.
Q: I see the Australian Open is having issues. What can the IOC study there?
A: About 1,200 gamers, workers, media have arrived for subsequent month’s Australian Open. All individuals have been required to return unfavorable COVID-19 assessments earlier than boarding flights for Australia. As of Tuesday, 9 on these on the flights examined optimistic when touchdown in Australia. That has compelled 72 gamers right into a 14-day lockdown — since they have been uncovered on flights — in addition to all different passengers on these flights.
Now do the maths. The Olympics and Paralympics will contain 15,400 athletes. And tens of 1000’s of workers, 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.
RELATED: Japan’s prime minister vows Olympics will probably be proof of victory over coronavirus
RELATED: IOC, Japan press forward with Tokyo Video games
TEGNA’s Travis Pittman contributed to this report.