Dubai: With less than one in four residents favouring the hosting of next year’s Games, Tokyo 2020 organisers have decided to embark on an image re-building process starting in September.
Next year’s re-scheduled 2020 Olympic Games were already set to cost more than 1.35 trillion yen before the postponement, and increased spending might further alienate a public already sceptical of an Olympics they once embraced.
Had the coronavirus pandemic not hit the world, the Tokyo Olympics would have had their opening ceremony on Friday [July 24]. But with the pushing of the opening ceremony by a year, the Games are now scheduled to start exactly one year from now.
Since then, organisers have scrambled to rearrange an event that has been almost a decade in the making - while trying to ensure next year’s Olympics are safe for athletes, officials and fans. Toshiro Muto, organising committee chief executive, said that although organisers hoped the threat posed by the virus could be reduced, nobody knows what the situation will be when the Games start on July 23, 2021.
A recent poll conducted by Kyodo News found that the general population of Japan wasn’t too much in favour of holding the Games as scheduled next year.
But, organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto told Reuters on Tuesday that meetings will be held starting in September, with members of the Japanese government and the local Tokyo Metropolitan Government on how best to rebuild support for the Games.
“By making a nationwide effort to implement all possible, conceivable measures to battle coronavirus, the people of the world will be able to come to Tokyo with a peace of mind,” Muto related.
“Once we create such an environment, I think people’s opinions will change,” he added.
Given the uncertain situation, organisers are now preparing to deliver an Olympic Games while embracing the pandemic. “It is rather difficult for us to expect that the coronavirus pandemic is contained,” Muto said.
“But if we can deliver the Games in Tokyo with coronavirus, Tokyo can be the role model for the next Olympic Games or other various international events. By delivering the Games successfully in Tokyo, we strongly hope that can create a legacy that is in the history of mankind,” he hoped.
Naturally, the delay to the Games will incur additional costs for organisers. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already estimated that the postponement will cost them $800 million, but the Japanese side has been less forthcoming in giving exact figures.
Muto said the final figure wouldn’t be known until December but hoped that bringing on new sponsors, despite the grim economic forecast, would help bridge the gap.
“I know that businesses are in dire circumstances because of coronavirus but still there are companies who are coming forward to say they want to sponsor the Games, which we appreciate very much,” Muto said. “It is a bright piece of news,” he added.
On Wednesday, Tokyo 2020 announced that Tokyo Skytree, the second tallest tower in the world, is joining as a new Games sponsor. The broadcasting and observation tower located in Sumida, Tokyo became the tallest structure in Japan in 2010 at a height of 634 metres.
Muto said he hoped all of Tokyo 2020’s current sponsors would extend their contracts until the start of the Games next year, although this will come at a cost. A poll conducted by Japanese public broadcaster NHK last month found two-thirds of Tokyo 2020’s corporate sponsors were undecided on whether to continue their support.
“We are hoping that there will be additional contributions (from existing sponsors) in terms of sponsorship fee because of the postponement,” Muto admitted.