With 6 months left, doubts grow over Olympics

Antonio Hermosín Gandul

Tokyo, Jan 23 (efe-epa).- Doubts are growing and time is running out for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which once again seem up in the air due to the resurgence of the pandemic both in Japan and in the rest of the world, with just six months left until the opening on July 23.

Rumors about the possibility of another delay of the Olympic Games — or even that they might be cancelled outright — abound in recent days, after a report in British newspaper The Times suggested that the Japanese government had already given up hope of holding the event this summer, one year behind schedule.

The hosts and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were quick to deny it and to repeat their mantra that the Games will be held whatever the pandemic situation and will serve to “symbolize the victory of humanity” over the virus.

“At this moment, there is no reason to think that the Games will not open on July 23 at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo,” said IOC President Thomas Bach of Germany earlier this week, while Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated his commitment to “organize a safe Games”.

The meeting scheduled for next Wednesday of the IOC Executive Board now takes on an almost dramatic interest. Bach will speak publicly at the end of the meeting at a press conference.

While organizers are insisting that the Games will go ahead this summer, the event last year was cancelled — despite promises that they would go ahead — when the pandemic was far less rampant than it currently is.

Faced with the record increase in infections, Tokyo and other major regions of the country have been under a health emergency since the beginning of the month, which entails limiting the entry of the public to sporting events to 50 percent capacity and restricting opening hours for bars and restaurants, among other measures.

Japan has also completely banned the entry of foreign visitors to the country since the end of December, with a view to curbing the spread of the new more contagious strains of the virus.

This background, and the lack of clarity surrounding a nationwide vaccination campaign, suggests the Games, if held, will take place amid large-scale restrictions for both athletes and the public, if anyone is allowed in the stands.

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