The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will be the centerpiece of a crammed sporting year in 2021, as leagues who had their calendars wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic try to fill in the gaps — even as another wave hits, AFP-Jiji reports in its look at the challenges ahead.
Some of the pieces are already falling into place. Tokyo 2020 organizers said last week that all 68 domestic sponsors for the Summer Olympics have agreed in principle to extend their contracts. Around 20% of 2020 Olympic and Paralympic tickets will be refunded, but organizers are looking on the bright side: That means about 80% of people are keeping hold of theirs for 2021.
But the delay has come at a cost, with the final budget swollen by the postponement and a raft of pandemic measures to a Summer Olympics record of at least ¥1.64 trillion ($15.9 billion), eclipsing London 2012’s $14.96 billion. And the final bill is still anyone’s guess.
As for the logistics of putting on a world-class event in what we hope will be the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, the government is supporting the International Olympic Committee’s effort to get as many participants in the games, particularly from developing countries, vaccinated.
Saburo Kawabuchi, who played soccer for Japan at Tokyo 1964, has the daunting task of ensuring some 18,000 competitors in the Athletes Village stay safe throughout the games, but the 84-year-old appears to be relishing the challenge. “It feels as though I was handed one last major role to play in the remainder of my life,” he says.
But no amount of vaccine, hand-washing or social distancing can control one factor that could, metaphorically or literally, rain on the Olympic parade. Tim Hornyak analysed the weather over the period when Tokyo 2020 should’ve taken place to see what kind of challenges the delayed games might face, from rain to intense summer heat.