The Tokyo Olympics has been postponed by a year from July-August 2020 to 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic but it has not allayed fears that the biggest sporting show on earth will still evade the virus. Amid the speculation, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that the games will be held next year regardless of the virus’s condition. The event is scheduled between July 23 and August 8 in the Japanese capital next year.
IOC vice-president John Coates on Monday, September 7, confirmed this to tell AFP that the sporting event will be called the “Games that conquered Covid”. This is the second time that Tokyo is serving as an Olympic host after 1964. In 1940, they were also supposed to host the games but it was eventually canceled because of the Second World War. “It will take place with or without Covid. The games will start July 23 next year,” Coates said.
The IOC vice-president also said that the games will revolve around the theme of reconstruction, following the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 that destroyed the northeastern part of the Asian power. He said the theme sounds even more suitable now with the decision to go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic. “Now very much these will be the Games that conquered Covid, the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
The Tokyo games were postponed in March because of the coronavirus. It was the first time that the Summer Games has been affected during peacetime. The move came following a proposal made by former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who stepped down recently owing to health reasons. Abe floated the proposal during talks with IOC president Thomas Bach and the latter agreed to it. Japan has seen more than 72,000 cases with 1,377 dead.
Worldwide, Covid-19 has affected more than 27 million people and claimed over 892,000 lives. The decision to postpone the event was confirmed later by the IOC which said: “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 Paralympics was also postponed to August-September next year.
Health experts unsure about move
The IOC vice-president’s latest claim could add to the scepticism of the health experts who are little convinced that the games can take place unless a vaccine is made available. The experts expressed their concerns even as Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said in July that the Olympics and Paralympics could be held in front of “a limited number of spectators” because of the coronavirus scenario. Speaking to BBC, Muto said the organizers “will do everything we can to make it to the opening ceremony” on July 23, 2021. “Everyone should focus on holding the event next year – we’re on the same page,” he said, adding: “We discussed this with Mr [Thomas] Bach [IOC president] and he’s saying it isn’t appropriate to think about canceling or postponing again.”
Meanwhile, a study conducted by Oxford University said the Tokyo games has already become the most expensive summer games, exceeding 200% of its scheduled costs and they are expected to go even higher with the delay, Associated Press reported.
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