Already postponed for a year because of the health crisis linked to the coronavirus, will the Olympic and Paralympic Games take place in Tokyo this summer? Despite the reassuring messages delivered – almost every week – by the organizers, there is doubt.
Worse, it is getting thicker as the pandemic begins to disrupt world sport all over the world. Not to mention the still tough mistrust of Tokyoites …
That’s it, we are in 2⃣0⃣2⃣1⃣! 🙌
It is an unparalleled Olympic year that opens before us. But what exactly does it have in store for us? 🤔
– # Tokyo2020 in French (@ Tokyo2020fr) January 1, 2021
A postponement or a cancellation? It’s no
The IOC has already said it many times: there is no question of postponing the Tokyo Olympics a second time. The one-year delay, following the Covid-19 health crisis, has already exploded the bill, with at least 1.6 billion in additional spending. If the Games take place, they will be among the most expensive in history (13 billion euros).
As for a cancellation, the idea does not cross the minds of the organizers, convinced of offering “safe and secure” Games. The IOC was also quick to deny the information from the Japanese media, according to which discussions would be scheduled for February about a possible cancellation of the Olympics.
The director general of the organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, spoke of “false information”. But the decision, as a last resort, will rest with the Japanese authorities, not the IOC …
“When this kind of information comes to light, some people may get worried.” I want to say that we do not think that way at all and that these articles are wrong “.
Toshiro Muto, Director General of the Organizing Committee for the 2021 Olympics
The reluctant local population
Week after week, opinion polls deliver the same verdict: a majority of Tokyoites continue to show skepticism towards the Olympics. In the latest Kyodo news agency poll, 45% of those polled wanted the Games to be postponed a second time and 35% said they were in favor of outright cancellation.
And Toshiro Muto’s defense struggles to convince: “The number of people asking for the Games to be postponed has increased a lot, but it means that these people still want the Games to be held” …
However, it is rare to see public opinion have the last word on events of this magnitude ….
With what health measures for athletes?
“We will make the necessary preparations accordingly,” organizers said last week. But which ones? With a little more than six months from the start of the fortnight, little is known about what awaits the athletes who qualify for Tokyo.
During the holidays, Belgian media reported that athletes would have to observe a quarantine of fourteen days before being able to compete, like what Australia practices for tennis and its Melbourne Grand Slam delayed in February. But no one has confirmed or denied this measure, which would be problematic for some athletes, especially cyclists, who could not follow the Tour de France then the online race of the Olympics …
According to Het Nieuwsblad, the IOC will impose a 14-day quarantine on athletes who will participate in the Tokyo Olympics next summer. In this situation for the time being, the riders will therefore have to choose between the Tour de France and the Olympic Games. #Twittcycloshttps://t.co/u7cbdwiTdo
– Le Gruppetto (@LeGruppetto) December 30, 2020
On site, athletes will undergo regular PCR tests: upon arrival, then every four to five days according to a document released in December. Likewise, they will need to sign a code of conduct urging them not to speak loudly, to avoid physical contact with others, and to wear masks when they are not training or competing.
Failure to comply with the rules could also lead to penalties.
The public, the great unknown
The Olympic Games in empty venues? The threat hangs over the planetary event. Currently, no major competition welcomes an audience. Not even the Mondial de hand in Egypt, even though the authorities had opened the ticket office at the beginning of the month, before retracting.
In six months, will the mixing of populations be on the agenda again? Nothing is less certain, especially since the organizers have already agreed that it will be impossible to impose a quarantine on foreign spectators, who have to take Tokyo public transport.
And the current health situation in Japan does not give cause for optimism: after two first waves relatively well managed, the country of the rising sun suffers the full brunt of the third wave, which forced the government to decree at the end of last week a new state of emergency for Tokyo and its suburbs, for a minimum of one month.
The only positive note: despite the restrictions, sporting events are maintained with a number of spectators limited to 50% of the capacity of each site, and with a ceiling limited to 5,000 people.
And the vaccine in all of this?
It is accepted that the vaccine will not be a prerequisite to allow athletes to participate in their events. Moreover, in Japan, the situation is much less advanced than in Europe, China or the United States.
The vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in Japan, not expected for several weeks, risks being further slowed down by a long-standing mistrust of the Japanese population towards vaccines, warn experts.
The crazy idea of a former British rower
The former great British rower Matthew Pinsent called on Monday to postpone the holding of the next summer Olympics, by organizing those in Tokyo in 2024, those in Paris in 2028 and those in Los Angeles in 2032.
A hypothesis that is almost impossible. Not only would Tokyo see its costs further inflate with a further postponement, but it is hard to see France and the United States accepting a four-year lag …
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