Dueling reports over the last few hours from major publications have left a level of chaos and uncertainty about what is happening with the Tokyo2020 Olympics, already rescheduled to summer of 2021 due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
The Times, a British publication, sent a shockwave through the global sporting community when multiple publications, including Reuters and The Sydney Morning Herald, picked up their story about internal sources within the Japanese government casting doubt over the country’s ability to host the Olympic Games in the summer of 2021.
But, in spite of headlines like “Tokyo Olympics to be canceled for coronavirus: reports” (SMH), the actual substance of the source article is much less robust in its confidence.
Citing a single source within the government’s ruling coalition, The Times reports in its lead that “the Japanese government has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be canceled because of the coronavirus, and the focus is now on securing the Games for the city in the next available year, 2032.”
The exact quote from the source, however, presents this more as an opinion.
“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” the source said. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
This runs counter to multiple other reports over the last day, which includes the International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Thomas Bach telling Kyodo News “We have, at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. There is no Plan B.”
Further, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga told Japanese parliament this week that “we will have full anti-infection measures in place and proceed with preparation and with a determination to achieve the Games that can deliver hope and courage throughout the world.”
So, the net effect is an escalation of the disagreement that has gripped the Olympic community for almost a year now. Previously, the lead of the organizing committee for the London 2012 Olympics said that he didn’t think the Games would happen, but he has no role in Tokyo 2021, so that was more of an opinion based on experience than direct knowledge of preparations.
Privately, American Olympic leadership in the United States has been indicating that they expect the Olympics to move forward as well, though they haven’t made a public position statement.
And so, all of this leaves us with a growing sense of uncertainty. It feels as though a final go/no go call would have to come within the next few months to escape as much sunk cost as possible. The IOC’s next Executive Board Meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 27.
Addition: after the original publication of this report, the USOPC posted on their Twitter account saying that they have not received any information regarding the upcoming Olympic Games being canceled.
(1/3) USOPC statement on the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020:
— USOPC News (@USOPC_News) January 22, 2021