Tokyo Olympics Officials Attempt to Rally After Public Urges Further Postponement
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Tokyo Olympics Officials Attempt to Rally After Public Urges Further Postponement

By Elizabeth Gibson for The J-Pop Exchange

More rumors regarding the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics swirled around this past week, but IOC (International Olympic Committee) President Thomas Bach and local organizers are holding their ground, claiming the postponed Olympics are still very much on for this year.

Now set to open July 23, the Tokyo Games had been postponed 10 months ago at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and now the event might be in trouble once again.

In a statement, the local organizing committee said the Olympics are still going forward and has the support of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

“In the last couple of days, we had consultation calls with the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees,” Bach said. “All of them are fully united and committed; all 206 National Olympic Committees, all the International Federations, and the athletes are standing behind these Olympic Games. We see the same commitment on the Japanese side with the Japanese government, the Organising Committee, and the Japanese Olympic Committee.”

Several reports of cancellation began to surface this month when the Japanese government put Tokyo and other prefectures under a state of emergency order to counter a surge of rising COVID-19 cases. Despite this, Bach said there’s no question on whether the Tokyo Olympics will ultimately be canceled. He also said there is “no Plan B.”

“So there is speculation about cancellation…” Bach said. “We are not speculating on whether the Games are taking place. We are working on how the Games will take place.”

Japan has reported fewer than 5,000 deaths from the coronavirus and has reportedly handled the virus better than most countries. However, the surge of cases has not tapered off in Tokyo, a sprawling metropolitan with a population of 35 million.

Public opinion in Japan has also turned against the Games with 80 percent in several polls saying they should be postponed again or canceled. The polls were conducted by the Japanese news agency Kyodo and TBS — the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

‘Playbook’ rules for Tokyo Olympics safety includes less cheering, hugging, outings

The IOC released a “playbook” for staff, athletes, guests, judges, and media who will be attending the Olympic and Paralympic Games, now set for July 23 and August 24 respectively.

Some guidelines include “support athletes by clapping and not singing or chanting,” “wear facemasks at all times,” and “avoid physical contact, including hugs and handshakes.”

The playbook — which is just the start, as the next version is due in April — also tells visitors to not visit tourist areas, shops, restaurants, bars, or gyms.

Japan sponsors suspend ads as uncertainty of Olympics grows

Some Olympics sponsors are starting to scale back ad campaigns and marketing events amidst public concern over a new wave of COVID-19.

Additionally, some firms including Canon and Japan Airlines are concerned that organizers have not shared contingency plans if a cancellation were to happen.

Though Japan has contained the spread of the virus better than most places in the world, hospitals are still besieged by patients who have the virus, and the government has advised the public to stay indoors as much as possible.

The IOC’s top-tier global sponsors — an exclusive list of 14 companies including Coca-Cola Co. and Visa Inc. — pay well over $1 billion every four years to be associated with the games. Those agreements tend to span multiple Olympics, whereas local sponsors are in it just for this event.

Tokyo Olympics' chief organizer condemned for sexist remarks

Criticism of former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori continues to mount after he complained that women speak for too long in meetings.

The 83-year-old has since apologized but refused to resign. He attempted to justify his comments by explaining he doesn't “speak to women much.”

Olympic medallists, Japanese sports officials, and volunteers have lined up to condemn Mori, while Tokyo's governor, Yuriko Koike, was stunned by the remarks.

“The mission of the metropolis and the organizing committee is to prepare for a safe and secure Games, and we are facing a major issue,” said Koike, who governs as the city's first female governor. “I myself was struck speechless by his comments, which should not have been made.”

The gaffe is the latest headache for organizers already battling public concern about the already-postponed Games.


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