The fate of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics hangs very much in the balance, even though the IOC and Japanese organizers have rescheduled the event for the summer of 2021 in the wake of the global pandemic.
It wasn’t a decision the IOC or Japanese organizers took lightly, but it was unavoidable under the circumstance of a global pandemic with all the uncertainty it entails. Local Japanese reports estimate the cost in the billions of dollars, with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.
As it is, the Tokyo Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, will be held in the same time slot reserved for this year’s Games – in the summer of 2021 between July 24 and August 8. Meanwhile, the Paralympics are set to get underway from August 24 to September 5. And the Olympic clock, which was adjusted on March 31, now reflects the new anticipated start dates in Tokyo.
Olympics are a dream come true for athletes, sports fans, and fans of betting on sports. Sports fans are embarrassed for choice with the sheer volume of sports that feature on the calendar of events Not for nothing, the Tokyo Games were the biggest event of the year to be affected by the new and unfamiliar deadly virus, after almost every single major sporting league and event in Europe, Asia and North America was suspended or canceled in March.
At the time, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to reschedule the Games was the responsible and appropriate decision in the wake of the global pandemic, issuing a joint statement to that effect.
“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
The statement gave a message of hope and optimism for the future as well, in which the Tokyo Games were served up as a ‘beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times.’
Indeed, the Olympic flame, which had only just arrived in Japan at the time, was put on display for all to see. Slated to burn brightly in Tokyo as a metaphorical “light at the end of the tunnel.”
However, that decision was quickly reversed and the Olympic flame was moved to an undisclosed area, in order to discourage mass gatherings following a state of emergency declaration in Japan a few weeks later.
The dire situation prompted Tokyo Games CEO Toshiro Muto to cast doubt then on the Olympics going ahead next summer. “I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” Muto said. “We’re certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer.”
Today, several months on from the peak of the global pandemic, many governments are now relaxing the various lockdown measures that were implemented within their jurisdictions, in an attempt to contain and slow down the spread of the deadly virus. Keen to get back to normal life and start removing the stringent virus-mandated lockdowns that have led to substantial economic and social loss.
And yet: the future of the Olympic Games remains uncertain. Epidemiologists are sounding about a possible resurgence of Covid-19 cases. So-called second wave of the global pandemic, overwhelming the planet with even more devastating consequences than the first wave that spread rapidly in February and March 2020.
In such an eventuality, the prospect of canceling the Games outright is very much real. The cost of rescheduling the Tokyo Games already has been massive. Outright canceling the games would be catastrophic.
IOC President Thomas Bach along with Japan’s organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori have both ruled out another delay, saying the Olympics will be canceled if they can’t open on July 23, 2021.