TOKYO – It's been 2 1/2 months since the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So where do the games stand? So far, many ideas about how the Olympic can take place are being floated by the International Olympic Committee, Japanese officials and politicians, and in unsourced Japanese newspaper articles coming from local organizers and politicians. The focus is on soaring costs, fans — or no fans — possible quarantines for athletes, and cutting back to only “the essentials."
No one blames the IOC for not knowing what conditions will be a year from now. And from the IOC perspective, there is no need yet to speak frankly and possibly alienate Japanese politicians and citizens, sponsors and TV broadcasters, and athletes.
The IOC executive board meets on Wednesday and will hear a brief presentation from Tokyo organizers on a remote hookup, explaining where things stand. Few surprises and few specifics are expected. The meeting is behind virtual closed doors, although IOC President Thomas Bach will speak afterward.
Q: Given the pandemic, will the Olympics really open on July 23, 2021? There are skeptics, particularly if no vaccine is available.
A: The IOC says “yes,” although that was the stance just days before the 2020 games were postponed in late March. Japan and the IOC have agreed: the games cannot be postponed again. If they can't be held this time, they will be canceled.
IOC member John Coates, who oversees preparations for Tokyo, said a few weeks ago that the games face “real problems.” Much has to do with the massive scale: 11,000 Olympians, 4,400 Paralympians, 206 national Olympic Committees, dozens of summer sports federations, 42 venues and more than 5,000 apartments to secure in the Athletes Village, about 25% of which are reported to have been sold. Pierre Ducrey, Olympic Games operations director, said last week that retaining the Olympic Village was “problem No. 1.” This is without even raising the question of fans.
Q: So, will there be fans? Sports starting up around the world are doing it in empty venues.