Tokyo 2020 organizers weigh changes to Games, avoid talk of cancellation

By Agustin de Gracia

Tokyo, Jun 23 (efe-epa).- Streamline, reduce and adjust are some of the verbs now being uttered by organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Games, which have been pushed back to the summer of 2021 due to the global pandemic.

But even though a wide range of changes are being considered, the organizers for the most part emphatically insist there is no talk of canceling next year’s Olympics.

The stage is currently being set for a Games that will be radically different to what had been planned just a few months ago, with multiple aspects being reexamined and reviewed based on the guiding principles adopted at the International Olympic Committee’s most recent meeting.

Thirteenth months from the start of that international sporting showcase, the idea is to establish which services will be maintained, how to adjust the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics and what anti-coronavirus measures to adopt.

Additional steps to combat Covid-19 will be assessed in a new planning phase starting in September, depending on the evolution of the pandemic. Then in January organizers will prepare to implement the full range of agreed-upon actions.

The chief executive officer of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, said at a news conference earlier this month that 200 items are being reviewed as part the planning phase, although concrete ideas either have not yet emerged or not yet been made public.

One basic principle, however, remains constant: the competitions will be maintained as far as possible and “will only be adapted to the new context if absolutely necessary for operational reasons.”

The organizing committee has “never discussed cancellation,” Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said earlier this month. “It is not right to discuss based on speculation and hypothetical scenarios.”

But the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, said last month that the Olympics will not be further postponed and would have to be scrapped altogether if they cannot be held from July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021.

Doubts about the viability of the Games also persist among some local organizers and the Games’ sponsors.

“Selecting athletes by around next March will be a major challenge. The organizing committee will need to make some kind of a decision considering the situation at that time,” Toshiaki Endo, one of the vice presidents of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said on June 5.

“There are still many estimates and it is unclear what the new coronavirus situation will be next summer. It is still too early to discuss whether to hold (the games) or not,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a recent survey conducted by Japanese public media corporation NHK, two-thirds of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics corporate sponsors said they have not yet decided whether to extend their contracts beyond this December. EFE-EPA


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