Tuesday, June 15

Tokyo Olympic Games: When are they and will they go ahead despite Covid?

image copyrightGetty Images

The Tokyo Olympics are due to start next month, despite a surge of Covid cases in Japan.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto is “100%” certain the Games will go ahead, despite a state of emergency in the city.

When and where are the Olympics?

They were postponed last year because of Covid.

The Olympics involve 33 competitions and 339 events, held across 42 venues. The Paralympics feature 539 events, across 22 sports, at 21 venues.

Most are in the Greater Tokyo area. Some football games and the marathon are in Sapporo in Hokkaido, which also has a state of emergency.

What’s happening with Covid in Japan?

But a new wave of infections began in April and some areas face restrictions until 20 June.

image copyrightReuters
image captionMass vaccinations have only just started in Japan

What Covid measures are in place for the Olympics?

Organisers will wait until after a state of emergency in Tokyo ends on 19 June to decide whether local fans can attend.

International athletes and support staff will be tested before departure and on arrival in Japan.

They won’t have to quarantine, but must stay in bubbles and avoid mixing with locals.

Athletes don’t have to be vaccinated, though IOC officials expect around 80% will be. Participants will be tested for Covid daily.

Do people in Japan want the Olympics?

Several towns set to host the athletes have reportedly pulled out over fears it could spread Covid and put pressure on the healthcare system.

In May, a doctors’ union told the government it was “impossible” to hold the Games, given the pandemic – and the Asahi Shimbun called for them to be cancelled.

What have athletes’ representatives said?

A number of bodies and experts have expressed concern.

Japanese athletes have largely kept a low profile, but the country’s biggest sports star, tennis champion Naomi Osaka, said there should be a debate.

media caption‘If people are not feeling safe, then it’s a really big cause for concern’

What have other countries said about taking part?

No major countries have spoken out against the Games.

Team GB remains “fully committed to sending our full team to the Tokyo Olympic Games”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has also pledged his support. China is due to host the next Winter Games in February 2022.

Could the Olympics be cancelled?

Yes, but normally only under very exceptional circumstances like war or civil disorder.

The contract between the IOC and host city Tokyo makes it clear only the IOC can cancel the event.

The IOC is thought to make around 70% of its money from broadcast rights, and 18% from sponsorship. If the Games don’t go ahead, it could severely damage its finances, and the future of the Olympics.

image copyrightPhotoshot
image captionMany people in Japan are against the Olympics

If Tokyo was to break the contract and cancel, the risks and losses would fall on the Japanese side.

The budget for Tokyo 2020 was set at $12.6bn (£8.9bn), although it’s been reported that the actual cost could be double that.

Even though the Olympics are heavily insured, losses would still be high.

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