Japan marks one year since contested Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Tokyo, Jul 23 (EFE).- Japan marked on Saturday the Tokyo Olympics one year anniversary in a ceremony attended by some 20,000 people and marked by the memory of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

The widely contested Tokyo 2020 Games — which were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic — tried to redeem itself Saturday by hosting a large crowd of people after the Games last year were held without spectators due to Covid-19.

The event, held at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, was attended by hundreds of athletes and political figures while the general public attendance was reduced to less than a third of the stadium’s capacity to avoid contagion.

The ceremony gave tribute to Abe — who was assassinated earlier this month during an election rally in the western city of Nara — with a message of gratitude for his efforts in making the Olympics happen.

“I want to again express my condolences for Abe’s death. He made a great effort in bringing the Olympic Games here and making them successful,” Tokyo’s governor Yuriko Koike said in a speech at the ceremony.

But one year after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Japan is still debating on whether the cost of hosting the world’s biggest sporting event during a global health crisis was worth it.

The Games were postponed to 2021 amid unprecedented Covid-19 measures that included the sporting events to be held without spectators and severe restrictions on athletes, leaving Japan with a multi-million dollar bill for infrastructure that has hardly been put to use.

The Tokyo Games had a final cost of 1.42 trillion yen (10.12 billion euros), double the initial estimated cost in 2013, according to official figures. The spike in the price was a result of the postponement of the event and health protocols.

The popular rejection of Tokyo 2020 and the bitter aftertaste it has left in Japan’s economy has set an unwelcome precedent for Japan’s bid to host the 2030 Winter Games in the northern city of Sapporo.

Fearful of growing criticism over the cost and inconvenience of the event, the city council has ruled out holding a referendum on whether to go forward with the bid.

Sapporo is competing with Salt Lake City in the United States and Vancouver in Canada and would be the second Japanese venue to hold Winter Games after Nagano 1998. EFE


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