Dubai: It was a deflated Japan which woke up to the reality of the Tokyo Olympics being eventually cancelled on Tuesday in the face of coronavirus pandemic - though it was greeted with a mixture of relief and sense of inevitability.
As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the decision late on Tuesday, the curse of Japan missing out on the Games hit home once again - though as of now it has just been postponed by year. The organisers assured it will even be called ‘Tokyo 2020’ when it’s eventually held a year down the line.
History of the Games says it was during Japan’s military aggression in Asia which forced the annulment of what became known as the “Missing Olympics” in Tokyo in 1940 after the Games were switched to Helsinki before finally being scrapped because of World War II.
Tokyo officials originally placed a bid for the 1940 Games to show the city had recovered from the devastating 1923 earthquake. Interestingly enough, Japan had framed the 2020 Olympics too as the ‘Recovery Games’ - a chance to show the country is back on its feet after the catastrophic 2011 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
That was not be, as the coronavirus pandemic drastically changed the world sporting landscape over March - forcing cancellation or postponment of a series of mega events lined up during the year like the European Football Championship, football leagues across the world, tennis and golf Tours, Formula One and eventually the ‘greatest show in earth’ in Tokyo. The T20 World Cup cricket, scheduled in Australia in October-November, lives in the hope that it can still go ahead being scheduled much later in the year.
Fortunately enough, most of the major sponsors of the Olympics - with whom the International Olympics Committee has long term association - have announced they will be standing by the IOC.
Altogether 14 global companies including Coca-Cola Co, Procter & Gamble Co and Intel Corp spent $500 million this year and have committed close to $4 billion on multi-year contracts that designate them as top-tier sponsors, according to research firm Global Data.
According to media reports, five major sponsors: Procter & Gamble, Intel, Airbnb, Coca-Cola and Samsung Electronics have already reaffirmed their commitment to the Games. “As the longest standing sponsor of the Olympic Games, we remain committed to working together with the IOC and TOCOG (Tokyo Organising Committee) to create a successful and safe event,” said a Coca-Cola spokesman.
Samsung said in a statement: “We will continue to work closely with the IOC and Games organizers to ensure a safe and memorable Olympic Games.” It’s still early days to say when will the sporting world be back on it’s rails. One only hopes that Japan’s - and the Games’ history of a jinx every 40 years - is proved wrong at the end of the day!