Tokyo Olympics manager says the game will not be canceled again

Tokyo-Friday’s Tokyo Olympics manager has once again assured the world that the postponed match will start in just over three months and will not be cancelled.

At a press conference, Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the Organizing Committee, asked if there were any conditions for the Olympic Games to be cancelled.

The question comes from the fact that Toshihiro Nikai, general secretary of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, raised the possibility the day before.

“There are various concerns, but the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee is not thinking about canceling the match,” said Mr. Hashimoto.

Mr. Nikai, the second-ranked LDP, was asked at an interview on Thursday if he had the option of canceling.

“Of course,” he replied, adding that if the Tokyo Olympics caused a surge in infectious diseases, “it wouldn’t make sense to host the Olympics.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Thursday, “There is no change in the government’s position to do everything to achieve a safe and secure Olympics.”

Seiko Hashimoto
Seiko Hashimoto, Chief of the Tokyo Olympics, will speak at a press conference held in Tokyo on April 16, 2021. (Cooperative news via AP)

Hashimoto acknowledged the concerns on the second floor and suggested that it was probably shared by the Japanese people. Opinion polls show that 80% of Japan oppose hosting the Olympics during a pandemic.

“The fact that he (upstairs) is concerned is something that Tokyo 2020 must take seriously,” she said. “His comments reminded me of how boring it was that we were confidently ready to serve the game.”

The number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing all over Japan. Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee and the organizers of Tokyo are under pressure. The IOC, which relies on the sale of broadcasting rights for 73% of its revenue, has stagnated cash flow due to the postponement. Japan has already invested at least $ 15 billion to organize the Olympics, and national audits suggest that it could double that. All but $ 6.7 billion are publicly funded.

On Thursday, Taro Kono, the Japanese minister for vaccine deployment, said there may not be any kind of fans at the venue as the Olympics continue. He said the Olympics are likely to have to be held in an empty space, especially due to the proliferation of incidents across the country.

Fans from abroad are already banned.

Hashimoto, who had previously said that the venue was decided in April, seemed to postpone the deadline. She was not asked about Kono’s proposal and did not raise or disagree with it.

Olympics-Mascot Millitewa
Miraitowa, the mascot of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will pose with the Olympic symbol displayed after the unveiling ceremony of the Olympic symbol. April 14, 2021, 100 days before the start of the Olympic Games, Mt. Takao in Hachioji City, western Tokyo (Kim Kyung-hoon / Pool photo via AP)

“Within April I want to set a basic direction,” she said. “Last Judgment Time — Again, we need to monitor the pandemic situation and maintain the flexibility to do so.”

The organizers wanted to generate $ 800 million from ticket sales. Much of that income has been lost and the Government of Japan needs to make up for the shortfall.

No fan of any kind can simplify the problem. Organizers can focus on only 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes entering Japan and maintain the bubble at athlete villages, training sites and competition venues. Tens of thousands of judges, officials, media and broadcasters must also enter Japan.

Hashimoto said Japanese athletes are not a “priority” for vaccination. Putting athletes at the forefront has been largely opposed in Japan.

The IOC states that vaccination is not a requirement to participate in the Olympics. Meanwhile, IOC Chairman Thomas Bach undoubtedly wants to vaccinate as many athletes as possible.

Japan’s Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters on Friday that the government is considering conducting daily virus tests on athletes during the match as a way to ensure safety. The previous plan required virus testing every four days.

Marukawa also said the government had not talked about prioritizing athletes for vaccination.

On Thursday, Osaka’s second-largest metropolitan area in Japan recorded 1,208 new cases. The number of new cases exceeded 1,000 for the third consecutive day. Tokyo reached 729, the highest total in more than two months.

Japan has attributed 9,500 deaths to COVID-19.

The government on Friday was to add four more prefectures to those already in “emergency”. This brings the total to 10, which now includes Tokyo’s neighbors Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama.

Stephen Wade