TOKYO: For months now the IOC and Tokyo Olympic organisers have been yelling the message that the Games will open on July 23, 2021, amid the ongoing pandemic.
On Monday and Tuesday, the volume will get louder. In his first visit since the Olympics is postponed 7 1/2 months ago, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will be in Tokyo doing the rounds, shaking hands and posing for photographs.
To friendly lawmakers, and to a cynical audience distracted by the pandemic and ambivalent about the Sports, Bach will make his case. And they were thinking about employment and the economy.
In public, he is unlikely to provide many new details, but he has consistently said that the IOC is preparing many possibilities to get 11,000 athletes and some fans into Tokyo, too. The Paralympics will attract 4,350 new competitors. Bach spoke with growing assurance that there will be a vaccine, as well as quick research. He said both would promote the delivery of the Olympics, as well as conducting stalled qualification activities.
“I think we should grow more and more optimistic that we’re going to have a decent number of spectators,” Bach said at the Swiss headquarters of the IOC last week. Fans from overseas are also possible, but there are vague figures and protocols.
Last week, Bach was also asked if he was going to Tokyo to address contingencies in order to postpone the Olympics. “No,” he replied.
Bach is flying on a private charter and will meet on Monday morning with the new Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga. A few hours later, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be honoured with an Olympic trophy.
An hour later, he meets with Governor Yuriko Koike of Tokyo, and then attends a media briefing with President Yoshiro Mori of the Tokyo organising committee, another former prime minister. Many of the activities would be online, but some are open to personal media involvement.
Just under 1,900 deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded in Japan. It has handled the virus better than other areas, but over the past few days, it has registered a record number of cases as the virus surges across the globe.
Tokyo has been declared the best-prepared Olympics in history by the IOC president, a claim he is likely to repeat.
It is doubtful that he will dwell on the bills, most of which are in Japan. A report from the University of Oxford suggests these are the most costly Summer Olympics on record. Last year a government audit said Olympic expenditures could exceed the $25 billion mark. Everything but $5.6 billion is cash from the public.
That was until you could add another $2 billion to $3 billion to the wait. The IOC said that Japan would pitch in around $650 million for the postponement.