Some may call such naysaying unpatriotic or anti-social, but the fact remains: A deep seam of skepticism about the wisdom of holding the Olympics runs through Japan, notes the AP’s Yuri Kageyama. In fact, a majority of Japanese people oppose holding the Tokyo Games next year, favoring a further delay or outright cancellation of the massive event, recent polls show.
But momentum for Tokyo 2020 to go ahead as (re)scheduled in 2021 looks almost unstoppable: In just the past couple of weeks, we have seen a who’s who of Olympic quasi-royalty back the delayed schedule at the Olympic Summit, not to mention a vote of confidence from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe. To top it off, PM Suga told the U.N. General Assembly, no less, that he would “continue to spare no effort” to bring about the games.
Preparations are also continuing apace. Organizers announced Friday that Sapporo’s Olympic marathon course has been approved by World Athletics and a test event has been scheduled for May.
To keep crowds — and potential virus infections — to a minimum as the torch relay traverses the country, the government is considering asking organizers to make the event a celeb-free zone. The International Olympic Committee is also trying to ensure competitors only arrive at the Athletes’ Village days before their events and leave shortly after to minimize crowding.
But the virus is not the only worry: The delayed Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, organizers said earlier this month, with the postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget. Will sponsors want to be associated with an Olympics clouded by concerns over COVID-19 and cash? Contracts need to be renewed before the end of the year, so I guess we’ll soon see.