April 14 (Reuters) – While most Japanese residents remain opposed to hosting the Tokyo Games in 100 days, the International Olympic Committee hopes the mood will change when people realize how much emphasis has been put on minimizing the risk of COVID-19 infections.
By Karolos Grohmann
John Coates, IOC chief coordinator for Tokyo, also said that Japan’s sporting success stories, like Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters triumph on Sunday, would bolster support for the Games, which have been postponed for a year due to the pandemic.
With just over three months before the opening ceremony, organizers face a deluge of challenges with the pandemic affecting decisions on everything from athlete safety to spectator numbers to ticket sales as well. as local public support for the Olympics.
A Kyodo News poll this week showed that more than 70% of Japanese want the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled or delayed.
Tokyo began a month-long period of near-urgent measures to mitigate a fourth wave of infections on Monday, and more than 90% of those polled felt anxious over the resurgence.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said in a ceremony marking the 100th day of Wednesday that the fight against “an invisible enemy” had been a major test for humanity but that she was determined to do so. event a success.
Coates said in a media conference call that there was still time to engage the public in support of the Olympics and overcoming a negative perception of the Games was nothing new for the IOC.
“Once these stories start to go out to the public, I have no doubts that public opinion will transform,” Coates said. “Sydney (2000 Olympics) didn’t look very good before, but once we got to 100 days it turned out.”
However, Tokyo will not be like the other Olympics.
Every participant in the Games will miss the usual party atmosphere throughout the city and during their competitions, as the tests go deeper.
International spectators were banned and the IOC had to shorten its invitation list to only those essential to the Games. The organizers have yet to decide what to do with the national audience.
“The athletes will always compete in the best conditions,” said Coates. “There will be no foreign spectators or their family members to support them. They will be confined to the village and their sports venues.
“They won’t go downtown to celebrate. It will be absent (from the Olympics), ”he said.
These measures are all part of a detailed plan drawn up by the organizers to ensure that the Games are not postponed or canceled and that the Japanese should not doubt the IOC’s emphasis on minimizing the risk of infection, Coates said.
With some experts worried Tokyo on the verge of an ‘explosive’ leap in COVID-19 cases, Coates was asked if there were any thoughts of canceling the Games.
“Definitely not. I know the Japanese organizers are not considering the cancellation,” he said.
“We continue to receive the most comprehensive support. All plans are worst case scenario and we hope to sway public opinion with security measures. »(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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This notice was published: 2021-04-14 11:21:47