Olympic hopes dim for Tokyo

Prospects for Tokyo 2020 look increasingly bleak amid speculation on the feasibility of the Games and declining public support as Japan grapples with a third wave of Covid-19.

Despite growing speculation that the event may have to be cancelled, organisers remain adamant that it will be held as scheduled this summer.

More than 70 per cent surveyed in Japan in January by the Japan Press Research Institute said the event should be cancelled or postponed

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound admitted there is no guarantee that Tokyo 2020 would go ahead, but there is “a very, very good chance” it will.

“I think the IOC and the organisers are committed to going ahead with the Games, if at all possible. And so they’re not going to cancel unless there’s a consensus among the government, health authorities and IOC that it would be too dangerous,” he told Kyodo News.

Following the one-year postponement of the Games, the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee (TOC) agreed in June 2020 to hold a “simplified” Olympics that would limit the financial impact of the delay and ensure the safety of all those involved. However, uncertainty on the feasibility of that plan is growing.

Toshiro Muto, TOC CEO, said implementing the anti-coronavirus rulebook is the organisers’ biggest challenge, according to a report by SFP.

“If we don’t plan this thoroughly, we can’t hold a safe and secure Olympics,” he said, but added that organisers are “unwavering” in their commitment to hold the Games this summer. They have also not discussed making the vaccine a condition for athletes or fans.

Additional measures to reduce contact points at the Games have been suggested in recent days. Hosting spectators, for example, is a “nice-to-have” and not a “must-have”, according to IOC’s Pound.

With Tokyo reporting some 90,000 Covid-19 cases so far, people in Japan are increasingly opposed to holding the Games. More than 70 per cent surveyed in Japan on January 24 by the Japan Press Research Institute said the event should be cancelled or postponed. Of those, 83 per cent said the event would attract many people to Japan, leading to more infections, and 64 per cent thought the pandemic could not be contained by July 2021.

The IOC maintains that a further postponement of Tokyo 2020 is impossible.

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