Other Sports

How long until news if Olympics will open?

Hope springs: The Olympic flame, which arrived in Japan on Friday, will be on public display in some areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Hope springs: The Olympic flame, which arrived in Japan on Friday, will be on public display in some areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  

IOC president Bach has repeatedly said it’s too early to announce a final decision

The Olympic flame has arrived in Japan from Greece. Next comes the torch relay around the country, which is scheduled to start on Thursday from Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan.

Organisers have asked crowds to be restrained, but have been imprecise about what that means. Greek officials last week stopped a relay there on the second day and did not resume because of crowd size.

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese organisers and IOC president Thomas Bach say that the Games will open on July 24 at the $1.43 billion National Stadium in central Tokyo.

Bach has repeatedly said it’s too early to announce a final decision, saying he’s taking advice from a task force that includes the World Health Organisation.

But now there’s push back, mostly from athletes and former Olympians who are complaining: they can’t train, qualifying events have been cancelled, and the chaos is sure to favour some over others. Then there’s the question of bringing 11,000 athletes and staff together in the Olympic Village, and 4,400 Paralympians a month later.

Getting the flame to Japan represents a minor victory for both organisers and the IOC. Its symbolic presence could give the IOC space to postpone the Tokyo Olympics, leaving the symbol behind as a reminder of what’s still to come.

What is the deadline for making a final decision?

Bach surely knows, but he is not saying. In an interview with the New York Times Bach said cancellation is not on the agenda. That leaves only going ahead, or postponement, as the options. Empty venues seem to have been ruled out.

Who will make the final decision?

It will be made jointly with the IOC, the city of Tokyo, and the Japanese Olympic Committee. They are the three that signed the 81-page Host City Agreement, which spells out in enormous details all Games contingencies.

The IOC has all the leverage, though it will have to honour WHO suggestions and the interests of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The IOC has a reserve fund of about $2 billion and insurance to cover losses. The contract says termination can occur “... if the IOC has reasonable grounds to believe, in its sole discretion, that the safety of participants in the Games is seriously threatened or jeopardised for any reason, whatsoever.”

Tokyo is officially spending $12.6 billion to organise the Olympics, but a national audit says it’s at least twice that much.

How important is the torch relay to the IOC and local organisers?

It’s important symbolism for the Japanese government and Prime Minister Abe.

He is Japan’s longest-serving premier and hopes to use the Olympics to argue that the Fukushima area has recovered from the disaster nine years ago.

The government has dubbed these The Recovery Olympics. However, many residents are still living in temporary quarters after the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of three nuclear reactors in 2011.

Getting the relay started from Fukushima also helps major IOC sponsors Coca-Cola and Toyota, who pay millions to give their brands exposure during the relay. Crowds are being asked to be restrained. This will not keep the images of the relay from being transmitted daily around the globe on television. Bach is expected to watch the relay when it reaches Hiroshima on May 18-19.

Any bookmaker taking odds?

An Irish bookmaker says 1-7 Games will not open as schedule on July 24.

A poll by Japanese news agency Kyodo this week showed 69.9% of Japanese questioned do not believe the Games will begin on time.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 6:31:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/how-long-until-news-if-olympics-will-open/article31130748.ece

Next Story