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Tokyo 2020 plans changing like the wind

by Jack Gallagher

“A promise made is a debt unpaid.” — Robert Service

The saying of the late British-Canadian poet is apropos when it comes to what we are seeing with the shell game that has become of the venues for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

It certainly didn’t come as any surprise when the organizers announced recently that several of the original sites scheduled to host events during the Summer Games had been relocated. However, that didn’t make it any less distasteful.

The so-called “compact games” that were sold to the IOC membership back in Buenos Aires in 2013 have now become the “ever-expanding games.”

By my count there are now four prefectures (Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa) in line to stage contests, with soccer also likely to be held in places like Osaka, Miyagi, Hokkaido and who knows where else.

Once again the revisions have been linked to reducing costs.

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but I have a sneaking suspicion that what we are seeing was the plan all along.

What do I mean?

Well, it goes like this: present a grand vision to the IOC to win the bid, then slowly backpedal on the promises as much as possible.

That is surely the way it looks.

In addition to the venue changes, I can only imagine what the main Olympic Stadium is going to look like by the time all is said and done.

There is talk of building it without the roof that was originally planned and rumors are circulating that the architects of the project may be fired.

Good grief.

Why are all of these changes happening?

Because the Tokyo 2020 organizers know they have a strong hand to play.

What is the IOC going to do now?

It won’t take the games away, that is for sure.

So essentially the Tokyo 2020 folks can just ram through whatever changes they find palatable right down the throats of the IOC.

With all the talk about using “legacy venues” from the 1964 Tokyo Games, I’m wondering what the legacy of the 2020 Games will be.

Prefab buildings that can be erected and disassembled just as quickly?

Will people look back fondly decades later like they do now when they see the Budokan or Yoyogi complex?

Don’t bet on it.

Aoki setting the table

How about the fine play of Norichika Aoki with the San Francisco Giants?

He is really tearing it up for the world champions.

Aoki is batting leadoff, and through Friday was hitting .330, good for fifth in the National League. His on-base percentage of .398 is sixth in the NL.

Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, the television announcers for the Giants, rave about Aoki nearly every game as he does his best Ichiro impression by spraying hits all over the field and reaching base one way or the other.

It’s good to see a Japanese field player excel in the majors after several disappointments in previous seasons. It lets the other players and fans know that Japanese baseball isn’t just all about pitching.

Weekend to remember

Last weekend was one of the best for sports fans in recent memory.

Seeing LeBron James and the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals was impressive.

Watching Stan Wawrinka beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to win the French Open was inspiring.

But the best of all was witnessing American Pharoah end the Triple Crown drought after 37 years.

Absolutely amazing.

I just happened to wake up early enough last Monday to see his gallant run in the Belmont Stakes on TV. I had tears in my eyes as he charged down the stretch to a 5½-length victory to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to accomplish the feat.

My favorite moment, though, was hearing the deafening roar of the crowd after he crossed the finish line and was paraded back in front of the grandstand. It went on for several minutes and seemed to get exponentially louder.

A class act by the masses.

It all took me back to that day in 1973 when I was sitting on the couch with my mother watching Secretariat try to end the 25-year Triple Crown dry spell that followed Citation’s triumph in 1948. I was 11 years old.

When Secretariat did it in a record time that still stands 42 years later, we practically had to pick our jaws up off the floor. He won by a phenomenal 31 lengths in 2 minutes, 24 seconds.

American Pharoah’s winning time was 2:26.65. Analysis by experts said that if the two horses had been running together, Secretariat would have won by 16 lengths.

Incredible.