Dubai: Don’t be too surprised if the already once postponed Tokyo 2020 Games do not go ahead as rescheduled in 2021.
On the one hand, there are far too many bits — quoting IOC President Thomas Bach — that need to fit snugly “into the jigsaw puzzle”, and on the other is a latest survey that sees Tokyo residents not wanting the postponed Olympics and Paralympic Games to be held even next year.
Tokyo 2020 has been moved back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but doubts remain about the Games going ahead.
A recent survey carried out over the phone jointly by Kyodo News and the Tokyo MX television channel found that more than half the residents interviewed are in favour of completely cancelling the Games next year.
The survey was taken by 1,030 people of Tokyo and it was found that 51.7 per cent want the Games to be postponed again or cancelled altogether, while another 46.3 per cent are in favour of the rearranged Tokyo 2020 taking place in 2021.
Out of those who are opposed to next year, 24 per cent said that they would favour a second postponement — an option that has been repeatedly rejected by Tokyo 2020 and IOC officials.
On the other hand, a complete cancellation of the Games has been backed by 27.7 per cent of those interviewed. And of those who want to see the Games go ahead next year, 31.1 per cent said they should take place in a reduced form.
Holding a full-scale Olympic Games as initially planned has been backed by a mere 15.2 per cent of those interviewed.
For the moment, the middle road is what is being adopted by organisers, with Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto referring to a “simplified Games” as the best solution while admitting earlier in June that organisers have been considering and toying with at least 200 ideas on how to scale things back.
Following the coronavirus pandemic shutting the world, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics had to be rescheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8 next year, with the Paralympics due to follow from August 24 to September 5.
Some within even the organisers believe that these dates will also not be feasible, if the coronavirus pandemic does not subside significantly around the world and a vaccine is not developed and administered.
Bach has been among those who have admitted the 2020 Games would be cancelled entirely if not possible in 2021, with a second postponement not being considered.
There are further issues to be tackled ahead.
Another separate survey by Japanese broadcaster NHK has revealed that two-thirds of corporate sponsors for Tokyo 2020 are unsure if they will extend their contracts past December, with 14 per cent saying it would depend on the asking price.
The rearranged Games is a key topic amid campaigning for Tokyo’s gubernatorial elections that are scheduled to be held this Sunday.
Incumbent governor Yuriko Koike looks likely to win a second term although one of her rival candidates, Taro Yamamoto, has pledged to cancel Tokyo 2020, if elected.
And then lastly, the coronavirus itself: there are fears that a second wave may hit the Japanese capital, with the city reporting more cases earlier this week.