IOC, Japan promotes Tokyo games

Tokyo (AP) — Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and the surrounding area last week. As the virus surged, he once again promised that the postponed Tokyo Olympics would be “safe and secure,” trying to separate the state of emergency from the fate of the Games.

However, opposition to the Olympics has been heightened by growing calls for cancellation. The International Olympic Committee and local organizers have already stated that another postponement is not possible, leaving cancellation or opening on July 23 as the only option.

According to two polls released by Japanese news agency Kyodo News and Japanese broadcaster TBS in the past few days, over 80% believe that the Olympics will be canceled or postponed or will not be held. Negative answers are up to 15-20 percentage points from a poll published last month.

Koichi Nakano, who teaches politics at Sophia University in Tokyo, said, “Japanese people are already more likely to oppose the Olympic Games this summer, and the state of emergency is the cause of their loss. We are strengthening our awareness. ” Email to relevant press.

When the terrifying masses call for the Olympics to be canceled, it faces the reality of Olympic finances, geopolitics, and face savings.

Japanese taxpayers have sunk billions of dollars into the Olympics, the IOC lives on television money, and postponements have stagnated income. China is waiting for the Beijing Winter Olympics 13 months later if Japan stumbles.

“Japan’s position in Asia and the world is very important, especially when it comes to competition with China,” said Nakano. “If Japan were not the venue for the first” post-COVID “Olympic Games and the title was given to China, it would be a nightmare for them (Japan’s political leadership). ”

Mr Nakano said the government wanted to avoid emergency orders that could be extended to other parts of the country beyond February 7. This can make skeptics even more daring and endanger the game.

The organizers have promised strict “antivirus” measures for the success of the Olympics. This is what they are facing — with or without vaccine.

They must safely bring 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries and territories to Tokyo and still protect the Japanese. In addition to this, there are tens of thousands of judges, coaches, officials, VIPs, sponsors, volunteers, media and broadcasters. And if hundreds of thousands of fans (perhaps some from abroad) are allowed to participate.

The organizers have speculated on countless antivirus measures, but by the time the torch relay with 10,000 runners crosses Japan and heads to Tokyo on March 25, the opening ceremony will be held. You will get a solid answer.

It was also late March last year that the Olympics were postponed after the organizers insisted on hosting the Olympics.

For Japan, hosting the Olympics justified at least $ 25 billion in “sunk costs” and satisfied domestic sponsors who set a $ 3.5 billion record for a tournament led by giant advertising agency Dentsu, and neighboring countries. It has to do with participating in geopolitical contests with.China

For the Swiss-based IOC, it’s a matter of stabilizing its volatile income, 73% of which comes from selling broadcast rights, or broadcasting the Olympics on television. An additional 18% is due to sponsorship.

The US broadcaster NBC has paid more than $ 1 billion for Tokyo rights, and payments during the four-year Olympic cycle, including the Winter Olympics, account for approximately 40% of the IOC’s total revenue.

Unlike the NBA, English football, and other sports businesses, the IOC has only two major events: the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics. Dozens of International Sports Federations and many of the 200 National Olympic Committees live on IOC income.

IOC President Thomas Bach described the hosting of the Olympic Games as a “huge challenge” and acknowledged that his finances were under stress.

Dr. Atsuo Hamada, an infectious disease specialist at Tokyo Medical University Hospital, explained the double-edged Olympics. It can bring “pride and legacy”, and perhaps short-term financial benefits, but it can also bring viruses.

“Games can be one factor that can contribute to the risk of increased infection,” he said in an interview with AP.

Hamada said the state of emergency changed the situation a month ago, or from November when Bach visited Tokyo and talked about the “toolbox” of antivirus. Mr. Hamada believes that “ordinary Japanese” will not start vaccination until May.

He said the “bubble law” once seemed feasible. The NBA and NHL have successfully played in the so-called “bubble”. But at the Olympics, dozens of “bubbles” need to be dropped in 35 million metropolitan areas.

“The situation has changed now that the state of emergency has been declared,” Hamada said. “Compared to the situation at the end of last year, hosting the Olympics has become more difficult.”

Japan, with a population of 126 million, has killed about 4,000 people from COVID-19 and handles the virus better than most countries. Last week, more than 20,000 “socially distant” fans attended the finals of the National Soccer Championship at the new $ 1.4 billion National Stadium.

In an interview last week, IOC senior member Richard Pound said making athletes a vaccination priority would be “the most realistic way to go (Olympic Games).”

This seemed inconsistent with Bach, who recommended vaccination to “all participants,” but said athletes should not be prioritized. He also said that athletes do not need vaccines.

Pound also told The Washington Post that the odds of a game playing are “3 to 1.”

The IOC needs an uplifting Olympics after scandals in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Sochi 2014. Tokyo called itself a “safe pair” in a 2013 bid, but is contaminated with a bribery scandal that forced it to resign.Tsunekazu Takeda, an IOC member who was also the chairman of the Japanese Olympic Committee

Moreover, Beijing’s human rights records are deteriorating despite promises for the 2008 Olympics. Today, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are darkened by the concentration camps and forced labor of at least one million Uighurs Muslims in northwestern China.

“I think China is likely to constitute the Winter Olympics … From the perspective of a successful model of China’s pandemic management and global health leadership,” said Sina Greatens, who teaches Asian politics at the University of Texas at Austin. Said in an email. “I think Japanese leaders are enthusiastic about demonstrating leadership and honing their image globally, especially if they can be shown to be leading the way to some post-COVID era. ”

John Horn, who co-authored the book “Understanding the Olympics” and teaches sports sociology at Waseda University in Tokyo, said cancellations are possible.

“That’s not the moment we can really imagine. It’s often denied by the organizers, but it must be one possibility,” Horn told AP.

“There are many reasons why Japanese hosts don’t want to give up the possibility of offering an opportunity to show the world come together,” he added. “Of course, at this point there are all sorts of problems, not just virus infections, to bring the world together.”

IOC, Japan promotes Tokyo games

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