Tokyo Olympics 2020: Organisers need new dates for Games opening and closing ceremonies

'We must decide this soon, otherwise it will be hard to decide on other things to follow,' Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, told his 30 senior directors.

The Associated Press March 26, 2020 15:49:57 IST
Tokyo Olympics 2020: Organisers need new dates for Games opening and closing ceremonies

Tokyo: The Tokyo Olympics need new dates for the opening and closing ceremonies in 2021.

Nothing much can get done until those dates are worked out by the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and Tokyo organisers.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Organisers need new dates for Games opening and closing ceremonies

Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, said postponement presents a new challenge. AP

"We must decide this soon, otherwise it will be hard to decide on other things to follow," Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organising committee, told his 30 senior directors — all men but one — seated in a large meeting room on Thursday.

Two days after the unprecedented postponement was announced, the group gathered for the first meeting of what is being called the "Tokyo 2020 New Launch Task Force." They must put the Olympics back together after they were torn apart by the coronavirus pandemic.

Muto and the president of the organising committee, Yoshiro Mori, each gave pep speeches. Mori, an 82-year-old former Japanese prime minister, drew on war memories from his youth to summon the resolve to redo in a few months what was seven years in the planning.

He talked of his father going "to the war in the Pacific" and leaving a rugby ball and a baseball glove behind for his young son.

"I'm sorry, I'm an old person and I talk about the old days," Mori said. "I'm comparing this to the old days and I might be criticised by the media. However, this is the emotion I have inside me and this is the emotion I have as we face the predicament in front of us."

Muto ran off a condensed string of issues to be resolved: ticketing, security, venues, merchandise, accommodation, the Athletes Village, transportation and lining up unpaid volunteers. He added he was looking at "thousands of contracts" and the interests of broadcasters, sponsors, the IOC, world sports federations and national Olympic committees.

"I didn't imagine at all we'd be tested to this degree," he acknowledged.

He also voiced another reality.

"Additional expenses are going to be quite massive we assume," Muto said.

The Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei has estimated added costs due to the delay of $2.7 billion. This would go on top of an official budget of $12.6 billion. A Japanese national audit agency, however, says the actual amount of spending is about twice that size.

IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday that "all options are on the table" for new dates. He said next year's Olympics don't have to be restricted to summer in the Northern Hemisphere and might occur sooner.

Two of the marquee Olympic events — track and swimming — have already scheduled their own world championships for July and August of 2021.

If the Olympics are moved into spring, when it's cooler in Tokyo, they clash with the end of the European football season. In North America, they would bump into Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, NHL hockey and possibly even college basketball. That's assuming normal sports schedules resume by then.

"The postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices," Bach said.

Hidemasa Nakamura, the games delivery officer, was pressed again on dates.

"That's something we haven't decided on yet," he said. "We have no idea when we will be able to finalise the dates. We don't have a fixed plan how to proceed from here."

Updated Date:

Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply

also read

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Decision over foreign spectators could be made by May, says IOC president Thomas Bach
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Decision over foreign spectators could be made by May, says IOC president Thomas Bach

Organisers are yet to announce whether supporters will be able to travel to Japan for the tournament, but Bach said he expects a decision by May.

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Japan extends coronavirus emergency for two more weeks for Tokyo area
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Japan extends coronavirus emergency for two more weeks for Tokyo area

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sought understanding for a two-week extension he said will be the last.

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Decision on foreign fans at Games this month, say organisers
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Decision on foreign fans at Games this month, say organisers

Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto said that the safety of Japanese citizens "is the priority", after holding talks with top officials from IOC, IPC, Japanese government and Tokyo metropolitan government.