Another week, another sackful of articles on whether and how the Tokyo Games might take place. With so much still undecided six months before the planned opening, Britain’s The Times on Friday quoted a ruling coalition source as saying the government had in fact already decided to cancel the event but was still weighing how to break the delicate news.
Cue a barrage of rebuttals from top government officials and organizers, reports Ryusei Takahashi. “I am determined to host the games safely and securely in July,” PM Suga said, while International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach also chimed in: “The entire Olympic movement is looking forward to the opening ceremony on July 23,” he said.
So who was this “ruling coalition” leaker who put the cat among the pigeons, and what were they trying to achieve? Michael Bosack’s latest column on the Japanese art of leaking info to the media won’t give you a name, but it will offer some clues and insights into their possible motivation.
Almost lost amid the controversy was a report in another British newspaper the same day that the IOC is working with the World Health Organization to get all athletes vaccinated in a bid to save the Games. According to The Telegraph, fast-tracking COVID-19 vaccines to competitors where national programs are yet to begin is the main priority in the IOC’s plan.
Could this mean that the organizers are resigning themselves to an Olympics without fans? Also on Friday, Japan Medical Association chief Toshio Nakagawa said “it is not possible to accept” foreign visitors for the Olympics considering the current state of the pandemic, though the decision is not his to make.
Holding the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without spectators would result in an economic loss of up to ¥2.4 trillion in Japan, warned a report released Friday. Costs for holding the games have put pressure on Tokyo’s finances — which have already been eroded due to coronavirus measures — and the loss of tax revenue from expected visitors could be disastrous, Jiji reports.