TOKYO 2020

Virus Grows, As Do Questions: Will The Tokyo Olympics Open?

Mar 21, 2020, 9:55 AM | Updated: Jun 27, 2022, 7:47 pm
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori (L) claps on as Olympic go...
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori (L) claps on as Olympic gold medalists Tadahiro Nomura (R) and Saori Yoshida (C) light the Olympic flame during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Torch Arrival Ceremony at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Matsushima Air Base on March 20, 2020 in Matsushima, Miyagi, Japan. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

TOKYO (AP) — The Olympic flame has arrived in Japan from Greece. Next comes the torch relay around the country, which is scheduled to start on Thursday cture in northern Japan. Organizers have asked crowds to be restrained, but have been imprecise about what that means. Greek officials last week stopped a relay there on the second day and did not resume because of crowd size.

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese organizers and IOC President Thomas Bach say that the games will open on July 24 at the $1.43 billion national stadium in central Tokyo.

Bach has said repeatedly it’s too early to announce a final decision, saying he’s taking advice from a task force that includes the World Health Organization. But now there’s push back, mostly from athletes and former Olympians who are complaining: they can’t train, qualifying events have been canceled, and the chaos is sure to favor some over others. Then there’s the question of bringing 11,000 athletes and staff together in the Olympic Village, and 4,400 Paralympians a month later.

Getting the flame to Japan represents a minor victory for both organizers and the IOC. Its symbolic presence could give the IOC space to postpone the Tokyo Olympics, leaving the symbol behind as a reminder of what’s still to come.

Q: What is the deadline for making a final decision?

A: Bach surely knows, but he is not saying. In an interview with The New York Times Bach said “cancellation is not on the agenda.” That leaves only going ahead, or postponement, as the options. Empty venues seem to have been ruled out.

Q: Who will make the final decision?

A: It will be made jointly with the IOC, the city of Tokyo, and the Japanese Olympic Committee. They are the three that signed the 81-page Host City Agreement, which spells out in enormous details all games contingencies. The IOC has all the leverage, though it will have to honor WHO suggestions and the interests of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The IOC has a reserve fund of about $2 billion and insurance to cover losses. The contract says termination can occur “… if the IOC has reasonable grounds to believe, in its sole discretion, that the safety of participants in the games is seriously threatened or jeopardized for any reason, whatsoever.”

Tokyo is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, but a national audit says it’s at least twice that much.

Q: Who is pushing back?

A: The most recent pushback has come from USA Swimming and USA Track and Field, each having called on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to push for a postponement. As swimming executive Tim Hinchey put it: “Everyone has experienced unimaginable disruptions, mere months before the Olympic Games, which calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all. Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities.”

Another voice earlier in the week was from IOC member Hayley Wickenheiser, the four-time gold medalist from Canada.

“I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity,” she said. “This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics.”

On the Japan side, Japanese Olympic Committee member Kaori Yamaguchi told the newspaper Nikkei that the IOC “is putting athletes at risk.” Yamaguchi is a former Olympic bronze medalist in judo.

“Even if there is a reason that prevents the IOC from making a decision right now, (the IOC) should indicate a deadline.” She was critical last year when Bach abruptly moved the marathon out of Tokyo to Sapporo. She said such a sudden move was “not acceptable.”

Olympic committees in Norway and Brazil are also asking for delays.

Q: How important is the torch relay to the IOC and local organizers?

A: It’s important symbolism for the Japanese government and Prime Minister Abe. Abe is Japan’s longest-serving premier and hopes to use the Olympics to argue that the Fukushima area has recovered from the disaster nine years ago. The government has dubbed these “The Recovery Olympics.” However, many residents are still living in temporary quarters after the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of three nuclear reactors in 2011.

Getting the relay started from Fukushima also helps major IOC sponsors Coca-Cola and Toyota, who pay millions to give their brands exposure during the relay. Crowds are being asked to be restrained. This will not keep the images of the relay from being transmitted daily around the globe on television. Bach is expected to watch the relay when it reaches Hiroshima on May 18-19.

Q: Any bookmaker taking odds?

A: Irish bookmaker says 1-7 that the Olympics will not open as scheduled on July 24. A poll by Japanese news agency Kyodo this week showed nearly 70% of Japanese questioned do not believe the games will begin on time.

 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Tokyo 2020

(KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

Former BYU student becomes volunteer for Tokyo Olympics, Paralympics

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games couldn't happen without the help of volunteers. T. Christopher Okano, who attended BYU in Utah, is a volunteer for both Games, and he can't believe how lucky he is. 
10 months ago
The KSL Olympic crew in Tokyo — Jeremiah Jensen (L), Shara Park (center), and Alex Cabrero (R). (...
Alex Cabrero and Shara Park, KSL TV & Jeremiah Jensen, KSL Sports

KSL Olympic Crew Shares Their ‘Gold Medal Moments’ From Tokyo

After a year of postponement, the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo have come to an end. Our KSL Team has provided coverage of the intense international competition for the last three weeks, but before they go, they wanted to share a few gold medal moments of their own. 
11 months ago
(KSL TV)...
Shara Park, KSL TV

KSL’s Shara Park Visits Tokyo Japan Temple, Speaks With Local Church Members

As the Tokyo Olympics wrap up, our KSL team has been able to visit several important religious and cultural sites in Japan, including one that is important to member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the Tokyo Japan Temple.
11 months ago
Dr. James Parker with Parker Muscle and Sports Clinic in Kaysville helps a patient at his office. (...
Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

Kaysville Chiropractor Helps Athletes On US Track And Field Team In Tokyo

We have had possibly more athletes with Utah ties represented in Tokyo than during any other Summer Olympics before, but it's not just athletes going to the Games. KSL's Alex Cabrero spoke with a Kaysville chiropractor who is on the medical crew for the U.S. Track and Field team.
11 months ago
(KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero & Keira Farrimond, KSL TV

SLC Woman, Utah-Based Company Participate In Olympics In Special Way

Many Utahns work in some capacity with the Olympics, beyond just athletes. A woman from Salt Lake City has been working with NBC since 2002, doing makeup for athletes and on-air hosts, while Utah-based company, OC Tanner, has spent more than 20 years creating customized rings for every American Olympian.
11 months ago
(KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

Utah Museum Showcases Small Item That Brings Hope, Peace To Humanity

An airplane based in Wendover, Utah carried and dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. That moment, and another bomb later in Nagasaki, essentially ended World War II. Today, Japan and the United States are close friends, and inside a Wendover museum, there's an example of how things can change over time.
11 months ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Virus Grows, As Do Questions: Will The Tokyo Olympics Open?