Officially, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not changed its position: the Tokyo Olympic Games, postponed for one year due to Covid-19, will take place on the scheduled dates (July 23 to August 8), while the pandemic continues to rage around the world, and in particular in Japan, where the state of emergency has been reinstated in a large part of the country, including Tokyo and its suburbs, as in spring 2020.
“We have at this moment no reason to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on July 23 in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo”, assured Thursday, January 21 Thomas Bach in an interview with the Japanese press agency Kyodo. “This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are totally committed to making these Games [des Jeux] safe and successful ”, insisted the IOC President.
Behind closed doors or limited gauges, the committee based in Lausanne does not exclude any hypothesis, affirming itself ready to make “Sacrifices” to protect people’s lives. The IOC should make its final decision by the end of March on whether or not the Olympic venues will be open to ticketing – even partially.
At the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, the determination to see the Olympics unfold is the same. “Holding the Games is our inflexible course and, at this stage, we are not discussing anything else”, said its director general, Toshiro Muto, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, adding that the scenario of a cancellation ” not’[était] not in discussion “.
“Think about contingency plans”
However, contradictory voices were raised last week. Taro Kono, a key minister in the Japanese government, claimed that ” all [pouvait] arrive “, adding that the organizers should “Think about emergency plans” in case.
Former athletes are also skeptical, such as Briton Matthew Pinsent, quadruple Olympic rowing champion, who recently judged “Grotesque” to organize the Olympics this year. He even proposed to postpone the Tokyo meeting to 2024 and consequently postpone the Paris Olympics to 2028. And a recent poll shows that 80% of the Japanese are opposed to the holding of the Games this year – 35% in favor of their cancellation, 45% to a new postponement.
This is why Japanese officials are banking on the arrival of vaccines to reverse the growing popular disenchantment. But vaccination shouldn’t be compulsory for athletes and the public in Tokyo. Should athletes be considered a priority for vaccination? This may be necessary to ensure the safety of the Tokyo Olympics, recently said Dick Pound, a senior IOC official.
If they do, the Tokyo Games will be the most expensive in history. The additional cost caused by the postponement and implementation of a health protocol has been estimated at nearly 300 billion yen (2.3 billion euros), bringing the total official budget to 1644 billion yen (13 billion euros). A very steep bill for the Japanese organizers, who wanted to make the event a sign of humanity’s triumph over the pandemic.