The Tokyo Olympics, postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will take place “no matter what,” said Yoshiro Mori, president of the Organizing Committee, during a meeting between the Tokyo-2020 committee and officials of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) in Japan.
“We need to move beyond debates about whether to hold them or not. The question is how we will organize them. Let us reflect on this occasion on a new kind of Olympic Games ”, the former prime minister said, while the current Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Tuesday a one month extension of the state of emergency put in place. in early January in several departments of the country (including Tokyo and its suburbs) for an initial period of one month.
A tightening of the conditions of access to Japan for non-residents has already forced the postponement of several sporting events, including a synchronized swimming test event also serving as an Olympic qualifying tournament, postponed to early May when it was to be held early March. The Olympic torch relay through Japan is maintained and still has to start on March 25.
Decision in spring
The next highly anticipated step, Wednesday, with the presentation by the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics of new details on their measures against the coronavirus. Tough decisions about the number of spectators, going as far as possible closed doors, should be made in the spring.
It is therefore not impossible that for the first time in history, the Olympic Games (from July 23 to August 8) followed by the Paralympic Games (from August 24 to September 5) take place without spectators, or with a very large number. reduced. For the Brazilian Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), “to have Games even without an audience or only with Japanese spectators is preferable to no Games at all”.
A large majority of Japanese public opinion is currently opposed to hosting the Olympics this year, fearing that it will worsen the pandemic in Japan. Medical associations have called on organizers to limit the number of spectators, stressing that the Japanese health system has been overloaded during the wave of ongoing infections. And this, while Japan has not yet authorized any vaccine and should start vaccinating its population no earlier than the end of February.