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Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori, center at rear, speaks during the first meeting of the “Tokyo 2020 New Launch Task Force" in Tokyo, Thursday. Photo: AP/Koji Sasahara
2020 tokyo olympics

Organizers set up task force to deal with Olympic postponement

11 Comments
By STEPHEN WADE

The Tokyo Olympics need new dates for the opening and closing ceremonies in 2021.

Nothing much can get done until those dates are worked out by the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and Tokyo organizers.

“We must decide this soon, otherwise it will be hard to decide on other things to follow,” Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, told his 30 senior directors — all men but one — seated in a large meeting room on Thursday.

Two days after the unprecedented postponement was announced, the group gathered for the first meeting of what is being called the “Tokyo 2020 New Launch Task Force." They must put the Olympics back together after they were torn apart by the coronavirus pandemic.

Muto and the president of the organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, each gave pep speeches. Mori, an 82-year-old former Japanese prime minister, drew on war memories from his youth to summon the resolve to redo in a few months what was seven years in the planning.

He talked of his father going “to the war in the Pacific” and leaving a rugby ball and a baseball glove behind for his young son.

“I'm sorry, I'm an old person and I talk about the old days," Mori said. "I'm comparing this to the old days and I might be criticized by the media. However, this is the emotion I have inside me and this is the emotion I have as we face the predicament in front of us.”

Muto ran off a condensed string of issues to be resolved: ticketing, security, venues, merchandise, accommodation, the Athletes Village, transportation and lining up unpaid volunteers. He added he was looking at “thousands of contracts" and the interests of broadcasters, sponsors, the IOC, world sports federations and national Olympic committees.

“I didn't imagine at all we'd be tested to this degree,” he acknowledged.

He also voiced another reality.

“Additional expenses are going to be quite massive we assume,” Muto said.

The Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei has estimated added costs due to the delay of $2.7 billion. This would go on top of an official budget of $12.6 billion. A Japanese national audit agency, however, says the actual amount of spending is about twice that size.

IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday that “all options are on the table" for new dates. He said next year's Olympics don't have to be restricted to summer in the Northern Hemisphere and might occur sooner.

Two of the marquee Olympic events — track and swimming — have already scheduled their own world championships for July and August of 2021.

If the Olympics are moved into spring, when it's cooler in Tokyo, they clash with the end of the European soccer season. In North America, they would bump into Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, NHL hockey and possibly even college basketball. That's assuming normal sports schedules resume by then.

“The postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices,” Bach said.

Hidemasa Nakamura, the games delivery officer, was pressed again on dates.

“That's something we haven't decided on yet," he said. "We have no idea when we will be able to finalize the dates. We don't have a fixed plan how to proceed from here."

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


11 Comments
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Didn’t see a task force coming (sarcasm). Let’s meet and discuss endlessly, we’ve got a whole year to “strategize”.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

How totally and utterly depressing.

There is so much to say about this article, but I just can’t be bothered.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Fully understand Mr Mori's feelings but sir with due respect...with the Olympics postponed and at almost 83 years of age and having ongoing cancer treatment it might be time to step down if this is a "predicament"

9 ( +9 / -0 )

“Additional expenses are going to be quite massive we assume,” Muto said.

Well, for a kick-off, we are going to have to pay for this herd of oyajis to have their snouts in the trough of taxpayer money for another 12 months before they decide to exactly the same thing on exactly the same dates 12 months later.

It's going to be a bumper year for the Ginza hostess bars.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

How about strategizing a plan as to the better way of dealing with the screen crisis in Japan. Worry later about the Olympics, it’s dead and done for now. Focus on the virus, the nation and what to do if there’s a massive outbreak, that is and should take top priority.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The country can deal with the virus and dealing with the Olympics.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan has never been good with walking and chewing gum at the same time.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

bass4funk

Japan has never been good with walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Japan has had to deal with some of the most powerful natural disasters for hundreds of years, like the treble 2011 disasters.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Government: I can't understand why people in Tokyo aren't practicing social distancing and taking the virus seriously.

Also Government: Lets launch the Tokyo 2020 New Launch Task Force and sit real close to each other.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Darned, "bass" .... again agreements!!

Looking at the picture tells me they must be really busy with those postponed Olympics.

And, yes, the tax payer will have to shoulder those extra-expenses once again.

According to other news sites they didn't consider to include an insurance policy in case the games had to be cancelled due to something like this virus. Could've been done, but they didn't think about it.

At least they should focus now on prioritizing things, COVID 19 first, people's well-being second and after that whatever.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Can Mori not just go and retire?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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