TOKYO (AP) – The Tokyo Olympics need new dates for the opening and closing ceremonies in 2021.
Nothing can be done until these dates have been decided by the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and the organizers of Tokyo.
“We have to decide soon, or it will be difficult to decide on other things to follow,” Toshiro Muto, chairman of the organizing committee, told his 30 senior directors – all men except one – on Thursday in a large room. meeting. .
Two days after the announcement of the unprecedented postponement, the group met for the first meeting of the so-called “Tokyo 2020 New Launch Task Force”. They must put the Olympic Games back together after being torn apart by the coronavirus pandemic.
Muto and the president of the organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, each gave speeches of encouragement. Mori, a 82-year-old former Japanese prime minister, drew on memories of war from his youth to summon the resolution to redo what was seven years in planning within a few months.
He said his father was “going to war in the Pacific” and was leaving a rugby ball and a baseball glove for his young son.
“I’m sorry, I’m an older person and I’m talking about the good old days,” said Mori. “I compare that to the old days and I could be criticized by the media. However, it is the emotion that I have in me and it is the emotion that I have when we face the difficult situation that presents itself to us. “
Muto fled from a condensed series of problems to solve: ticketing, security, sites, merchandise, accommodation, athletes’ village, transportation and alignment of unpaid volunteers. He added that he envisioned “thousands of contracts” and the interests of broadcasters, sponsors, the IOC, world sports federations and national Olympic committees.
“I had no idea that we would be tested at this level,” he said.
He also expressed another reality.
“We assume the additional expenses will be quite huge,” said Muto.
Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei estimated the additional costs due to the delay of $ 2.7 billion. This would be in addition to an official budget of $ 12.6 billion. A Japanese national audit agency, however, claims that the actual amount spent is about double that size.
IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday that “all options are on the table” for the new dates. He said next year’s Olympics should not be limited to summer in the northern hemisphere and could happen earlier.
Two of the flagship Olympic events – athletics and swimming – have already scheduled their own world championships for July and August 2021.
If the Olympic Games are moved to the spring, when it is cooler in Tokyo, they run up against the end of the European football season. In North America, they would face Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, NHL hockey and possibly college basketball. This assumes that normal sports programs will resume by then.
“The postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices,” said Bach.
Hidemasa Nakamura, the game delivery officer, was again pressed for dates.
“This is something we have not yet decided,” he said. “We don’t know when we will be able to finalize the dates. We don’t have a fixed plan on how to proceed from here. “