A cautious countdown . . .
One year away from the rescheduled start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the city is facing its worst-ever COVID-19 spike, with 366 new daily cases announced on July 23. This week’s official Olympics countdown began with a modest fireworks display and a closed-door event at the National Stadium. Although a recent NHK public opinion poll found that 66 per cent of Japanese support delaying or cancelling the Games, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike remain committed to proceeding as planned.
Billions in shortfall, but sponsors in sight . . .
In 2019, organizers announced a budget of almost C$16.9 billion for the Olympics and Paralympics, well above the 2013 projection of C$9.7 billion. Actual expenses between 2013 and 2018 are estimated at more than C$30 billion, and the cost of postponement is projected to add C$2-to-C$8 billion. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pledged an additional C$925 million, and Tokyo 2020 organizers hope to raise more through new sponsorships on top of the C$4.3 billion already received. Top-tier supporters, including P&G, Toyota, and Alibaba, reiterated their commitment and announced athlete support programs to coincide with the Tokyo 2020 “Stronger Together” marketing campaign launch on July 23. Many smaller businesses, however, reportedly feel strained.
A new normal for the Olympics . . .
Though plans still include the participation of the full Olympian and Paralympian contingents, health experts and the IOC favour limiting or banning spectators, a suggestion Organizing Committee President and former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori rejects. Noting Japan’s existing entry ban on 129 regions, Canadian former IOC Vice President Dick Pound commented this week that an all-Japanese audience would conflict with the spirit of the Olympics. Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 organizers have identified 200 elements of the Games that could be simplified, scaled-back, or cut. In September, Japanese and Tokyo government officials will begin discussions about implementing COVID-19 containment measures for the Games. The IOC has indicated the postponement cannot be extended beyond summer 2020 and will announce next spring whether the Games will proceed.
- Japan Today: Postponed Tokyo Olympics hit 1-year-to-go mark—again
- Kyodo News: Japan marks 1 year until delayed Olympics, but virus concerns remain
- The New York Times: The Tokyo Olympics will open a year from now. Maybe