Japanese swimming athlete Rikako Ikee holding the lantern containing Olympic flame poses during a photo session at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 23. Friday would have been the seventh full day of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: AP file
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Heat! What heat? Tokyo Olympics would have been on cool side

21 Comments
By STEPHEN WADE

Friday would have been Day 7 of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics — almost the halfway point.

The focus has shifted to how — or if — the Olympics will happen next year. The pandemic will call the shots. How will Tokyo remain safe with 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes arriving in the country? Will there be any foreign fans, or only Japanese? Or will there be any fans at all? What about staff, media, volunteers, or officials who work behind the scenes?

Organizers say it will be months before they will supply any specific answers. Recent polls show about 70% of Japanese doubt the games will happen, or believe they should not happen.

Here a quick look at what's going on:

What about Tokyo's worrisome summer heat? How has it been so far?

Before the pandemic and the postponement, the major worry for organizers was Tokyo's stifling summer heat. The summer of 2019 was tough, but so far this summer has been mild and damp.

Temperatures this first week have been in the 27-30 Celsius range — low 80sF — with some morning and evening showers, a few sunny afternoons, and no real heat although it's almost always humid.

The forecast for next week looks nearly perfect with mild temperatures and more sunshine.

The International Olympic Committee was so concerned about the heat that President Thomas Bach pressured Tokyo organizers last year to move the marathons and the race walks 800 kilometers north to Sapporo, which is also a leading candidate to land the 2030 Winter Olympics.

The move set off a public squabble between the IOC and Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike. It also cost millions.

We saw Japanese swim star Rikako Ikee last week in a brief ceremony at the new national stadium. What are her plans?

Ikee was the star of the Asian Games two years ago, winning six gold medals in Jakarta in freestyle and butterfly. She was billed as Japan's “Golden Girl"and was sure to be the face of the Olympics. However, she was diagnosed with leukemia early in 2019 and has undergone a year of difficult treatments. The 20-year-old says she hopes to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Holding the Olympic flame in a tiny lantern, she gave an emotional speech last week at the new national stadium. The stadium was empty for the 15-minute ceremony on July 23 to mark the one-year-to-go mark for the games. She symbolizes the struggles facing Tokyo 2020 as it tries to pull off an unprecedented postponement.

“Let this year that starts today not be just a delay, but instead be thought of as ‘plus one’ more year,” Ikee said. "I feel that is a way of thinking that looks to the future and is optimistic. Of course, I understand well that there are some voices opposing even discussing sports when the world is in such a critical situation.

“But on the other hand, I think that when crawling out of adversity, you certainly need the power of hope. As long as hope is glimmering far away, you can continue facing the future no matter how hard it gets. For me, that one thought of wanting to return to the swimming pool helped me overcome the painful treatment.”

Where do the Paralympics stand?

Olympians learned a few weeks ago that the competition schedule for next year's Olympics will be virtually the same as the one planned for this year. Paralympians are expected to get similar news on Monday.

Organizers say they have lined up the same 42 venues for the Olympics — and one extra one that is exclusively for the Paralympics.

About 4,400 Paralympic athletes are expected, far fewer than the 11,000 Olympians expected. Plans call for athletes to be housed in the Athletes Village, a sprawling housing development on Tokyo Bay.

What are some of the scenarios that organizers are considering for next year?

IOC vice president John Coates, who heads the inspection team for Tokyo, gave several interviews this week in Australia. He repeated what he said a few weeks ago in an on-line meeting with all IOC members. Everything is on the table.

“There’s obviously different scenarios under which the games might take place, depending where COVID-19 is,” Coates told the Australian Associated Press.

He ran down some possibilities.

“One scenario may be that COVID is gone,” he said. ”A scenario might be COVID is under control in some countries but not in others among the 206 that send teams to the games. A scenario may be COVID is totally eradicated in Japan; or not eradicated in Japan."

He repeated what IOC President Thomas Bach said: Fans are preferable, but not guaranteed.

Where does the virus situation stand in Tokyo?

Tokyo reported a record single-day record of 463 new cases on Friday.

What is the status of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics?

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin was asked this week about the possibility of the Winter Olympics being called off.

"China will continue to support Japan in hosting the Olympics, and we also hope the Tokyo Olympics to be held as scheduled,” Wang said.

"At present, the preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympics are going on in an orderly manner as planned, and all parties, including the International Olympic Committee, have spoken highly of the progress in the preparations,” Wang added.

If Tokyo were canceled, the focus would shift immediately to China where the coronavirus was first detected. Beijing was awarded the Winter Games in 2015, ahead of Almaty, Kazakhstan, after several European bidders pulled out.

IOC President Thomas Bach warned two weeks ago about any threatened Olympic boycott. He didn't mention China, but the possibility would seem to be there with the rising tension between China and United States.

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

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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"At present, the preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympics are going on in an orderly manner as planned, and all parties, including the International Olympic Committee, have spoken highly of the progress in the preparations,” Wang added.

Well, you guys better cut your losses now and shut down shop. It'll be over before it begins.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japan would have won the judo by now, and I probably would have been sucking on my third beer of the afternoon. The trains would have been really busy today, I bet, especially in the morning, it’s hard to say which restaurants would have been most popular with all of the Olympic tourists though. All of them?

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

Maybe all the praying but doing nothing here would have paid off, although we'd only be a week through it, still get heatstroke warnings daily, and false earthquake alarms are going off and disrupting transportation and more, but I see no point in dealing in "what could have been", especially when it's being used as an excuse to avoid dealing with the potential heat even from tomorrow, let alone next year.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

LOL, Tokyo just can't get a break. For years all we've been complaining about is how idiotic it is to schedule the Olympics in July/August due to the heat, and thanks to dumb luck the naysayers (myself included) would have been proven wrong.....if the Olympics had actually happened.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Doesn't matter how it is now, it's unusual weather. The plan was to move the marathon, paint the road with heat absorbing paint, ask people to telework. It was a legitimate concern the fact that it's cool is beside the point it could have gone the other way. And at this time hospitals can't cope with the virus doesn't give confidence for treating thousands of heatstroke victims or many other incidents that occurs at events of this scale. It's over. Let it go, Let it go

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Purpose of sport is to build ideal humans - physical and spiritual harmony. Today's Olympic is far from the original idea.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Olympic Sports is life in full flow. Re-building lives and re-thinking ways and means to sustain life are challenges second to none. We need to put our best foot forward and fight this deadly virus with all our might.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Olympics are NOT for 2 weeks.

If they did go ahead - ie no corona - already there would have been many problems.

Many countries teams / athletes would have deployed all over Japan in regional host cities for acclimatizing, training etc. from a month ago. No one arrives the Friday night before. Many of these regions have been hit by high temps, humidity and deadly floods ^ landslides. Yes - places where international athletes and their organizers would have been staying. A lot of people have died recently and 10,000s are suffering from great loss of person & property. Not ideal from a "Welcome to Japan" perspective.

In addition the games will NOT end until Sept 6th. The Paralympics will take place in late August and not end until Sept 6. Many of these athletes, teams, mangers, carers, etc etc will have been in Japan for weeks before the games commence. Mid - Late August is often brutal and many para-olympians require much more care and assistance than fully able bodied athletes. A big challenge.

So this idea of "The weather has been fine is BS".

Some should take a moment to reflect a little deeper on the actual whole games and see what a potentially extremely difficult time these summer games in Japan would be for many.

And then throw in the 100,000s of spectators - many from OS - and that further complicates it all.

If a coolish summer prevails this year, well goodo, but that would be an anomaly that couldn't be counted on again for 2021.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Isn't hindsight wonderful?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

More like it would have been on the very rainy side. Pick your poison.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yay, one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer money didn’t go ahead.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yes, I'm sure Kyushu, Yamagata and the other flooded areas would have been in a festive mood.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The forecast for next week looks nearly perfect with mild temperatures and more sunshine.

The average high is 32 and the average low is 23 over the next seven days in humid Tokyo. That’s far from “mild”!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Maybe still 'cool' for you peeps in Tokyo now after a long record-breaking rainy season, but we've emerged into full summer in the west, and it's stinking hot, no weather for athletics, so just you wait.

No-one was wrong, apart from the organizers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This has been a cool summer with the extended rainy season.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wouldn't say specifically the preparation of the Olympic was a complete waste. For one Japan had intensify it's robot industry to improve it's customer services, secondly major cleaning and green projects were done to improve the surroundings, a lot of useful buildings are build which can hold events and can be put to use if the government really wanted to. While the tourist boom did not happen and many business suffer losses like hotels, restaurants etc, there are a lot of improvements. Security, disasters drills, summer heat prevention etc.

We all must look at it a little more positive. All that effort was not for nothing. Japan worked hard and did improve in many area's to try to look good for the world. Plus best thing is because the tourist boom didn't happen, most of the places had stay clean and the speculating traffic jams didn't happen. Tokyo had always worried that the increase tourists would cause a huge strain to it's subway stations.

Nothing in the world is useless and you can do anything as long you set your mind to it. What the governent need to do now is to be creative and try to see benefits they can make out of all this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ikee-san, people of Japan thank you for keeping the flame alive . . . .

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Even if the olympics were held there is no guarantee that the weather would be the same. One the Olympics were cancelled it created another timeline where random weather events would be different. For all we know if the Olympics were held it might be super hot. Silly article.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 One the Olympics were cancelled it created another timeline where random weather events would be different. 

Okay Spock. That's not how real life works.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Temperatures this first week have been in the 27-30 Celsius range — low 80sF -- article

We have a word for that here in Texas: May

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Only in japan can constantly rainy, overcast and gloomy weather be considered "good" It's all relative, I guess.

the forecast for next week looks nearly perfect

Huh? Almost every day will be have highs of 32-34 and very humid, just the weather they've been fearing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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