Hope in the Olympic flame now that good sense has prevailed


Hope in the Olympic flame now that good sense has prevailed

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

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It was really just a matter of time.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday announced that the 2020 Tokyo Games have been postponed to next year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for July 24 to August 9, is the latest sporting casualty of the COVID-19 spread which is pushing the world economy towards collapse and changing the way we live and interact with each other as human beings.

Over the past two months, as COVID-19 marched across the globe, claiming thousands of lives and stretching health care resources, we saw the cancellation of many sporting events — football, basketball, golf, motorsport, cricket, tennis, and horse racing, just to name a few.

The IOC and the Japanese Government were basically delaying the inevitable, as it was obvious that there was no way the 2020 Tokyo Games could have been held as scheduled, given the relentless march of the virus.

Yesterday, British Olympic Association Chairman Hugh Robertson was reported as saying he was heartbroken for the organisers.

Mr Robertson, who was central to the staging of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, spoke from a position of having “extremely good knowledge of how much hard work goes into an Olympics and a Paralympic Games”.

Mr Robertson, though, said the IOC had no option under the present circumstances but to reach the decision it did.

Outside of the disappointment of not being able to host the Games this year, Japan has spent heavily on preparing for what is the world's biggest sporting event — an estimated US$12.6 billion (1.35 trillion yen).

According to French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), that figure is divided between the city of Tokyo, which is paying 597 billion yen; the Japanese organising committee, which contributes 603 billion yen; and the central government, which is paying 150 billion yen.

However, the AFP report says the actual costs for the country have been hotly debated, with a widely publicised audit report estimating national government spending from the bid in 2013 until 2018 at 1.06 trillion yen, nearly 10 times the budget.

Additionally, Japanese businesses have poured a record US$3.3 billion into the Games in sponsorships.

We, therefore, can understand the hesitance of the organisers and the Japanese Government, up to this point, for that amount of money is nothing to sneeze at.

Now that good sense has prevailed, the silver lining is that the postponement will safeguard the health of the athletes, spectators, and everyone involved in the Olympic Games.

We see that the IOC and the Japanese Government have agreed that the rescheduled Games will be held no later than summer next year and will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. That suggests that the IOC doesn't want to reorganise the Olympic calendar which has Paris hosting the 2024 Games.

The IOC and Japan have agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan as they intend for the Tokyo Games to “stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times”. They have also expressed hope that the Olympic flame could symbolise the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.

We share that hope.

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