Asia Minute: Tokyo’s Lingering Olympic Dreams

Nov 17, 2020

As the case numbers of COVID-19 climb in the United States and many places around the world, government officials in Japan are still planning to host the Olympics next summer. That's also the plan of the head of the International Olympic Committee — who's in Tokyo this week.

 

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach says he’s “very very confident” that fans will be able to attend the Tokyo Olympics in person starting next July 23rd.

Bach is in Japan for meetings this week — his first visit since the 2020 games were postponed in March. He said that if a vaccine is available, the IOC will work to ensure as many athletes as possible are vaccinated, but added that it would not be a requirement to participate in the games.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Japan is “firmly committed to hosting the Tokyo Games next year.”

The Prime Minister, who’s been in office for about two months now, said “the tournament will serve as a signal to the world that humanity has conquered the virus, and that Japan has begun to recover from the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.”

While Japan has long since begun its recovery from events of 2011, “conquering the virus” may be another matter entirely.

Local media in Japan reported this weekend that more than 60% of domestic sponsors have not yet committed to extending their contracts for another year.

And a number of polls consistently show that most of the Japanese public believes the games should be postponed further — or simply cancelled.