Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto said on Tuesday that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games should be held "at any cost," trying to clear all doubts amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and worries of policy change from a new government.
"All the people involved with the Games are working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts toward next year under the circumstances they've been handed," Hashimoto said during a press conference.
"I think we have to hold the Games at any cost," the five-time Olympian said. "I want to concentrate all our efforts on measures against the coronavirus."
Hashimoto, who was appointed as the Olympic minister last year by outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, made the remarks when responding to IOC vice president John Coates' claim on Monday that the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead next year regardless of the coronavirus situation.
Coates said the Games will start as planned on July 23 "with or without COVID-19," stressing the Olympics has never been cancelled outside of world wars.
Tokyo 2020 organizing committee spokesman Masa Takaya said that Coates' comments have shown the IOC is "fully committed" to delivering the Games. He said that Tokyo 2020 will "carefully monitor the situation" and take countermeasures to ensure a safe and secure Games.
But he played down Hashimoto's determination when asked if the pandemic could not be fully contained next year. "We do not want to speculate on any situation," he said. "Considering the possibility of (further) postponement or cancellation, in case of any discussion, the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and key partners will have to sit together for any possible options at that time."
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori has said that the delayed Tokyo Olympics could not be held next year if the COVID-19 pandemic continues as it is. He also said that the Games will have to be cancelled if it could not be held next year.
A total of 331 new cases were confirmed in Japan on Tuesday, including 170 from Tokyo, the epicentre of Japan's outbreak. The Tokyo metropolitan government has maintained its highest alert level on its four-tier scale, meaning "infections are spreading" in the capital.
Regression to the Tail: Why the Olympics Blow Up Flyvbjerg, Bent, Alexander Budzier, and Daniel Lunn, forthcoming, "Regression to the Tail: Why the Olympics Blow Up," accepted for publication, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space.
Abstract The Olympic Games are the largest, highest-profile, and most expensive megaevent hosted by cities and nations. Average sports-related costs of hosting are $12.0 billion. Non-sports-related costs are typically several times that. Every Olympics since 1960 has run over budget, at an average of 172 percent in real terms, the highest overrun on record for any type of megaproject. The paper tests theoretical statistical distributions against empirical data for the costs of the Games, in order to explain the cost risks faced by host cities and nations. It is documented, for the first time, that cost and cost overrun for the Games follow a power-law distribution. Olympic costs are subject to infinite mean and variance, with dire consequences for predictability and planning. We name this phenomenon "regression to the tail": it is only a matter of time until a new extreme event occurs, with an overrun larger than the largest so far, and thus more disruptive and less plannable. The generative mechanism for the Olympic power law is identified as strong convexity prompted by six causal drivers: irreversibility, fixed deadlines, the Blank Check Syndrome, tight coupling, long planning horizons, and an Eternal Beginner Syndrome. The power law explains why the Games are so difficult to plan and manage successfully, and why cities and nations should think twice before bidding to host. Based on the power law, two heuristics are identified for better decision making on hosting. Finally, the paper develops measures for good practice in planning and managing the Games, including how to mitigate the extreme risks of the Olympic power law.
Keywords: Olympic Games, cost; cost overrun; power laws; regression to the tail; financial risk; fragility; convexity; irreversibility; misaligned incen¬tives; tight coupling; Eternal Beginner Syndrome; fat tails; skin-in-the-game; megaevent; megaproject.
Beijing will no longer host the figure skating Grand Prix Final scheduled for December or the speed skating world championships in February due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union said Friday.
The ISU conceded the events, intended as tests for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, could be called off altogether, saying it would be "a challenge" to stage them in alternative locations during the current season.
It has confirmed that a World Cup event for short track speed skating in December, also scheduled for the Chinese capital, has been canceled entirely.
The ISU said it will develop modified tests for the games with the local organizers, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.
The government is considering exempting visitors from overseas who will attend next summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics from the nation’s 14-day quarantine period, a measure currently imposed in principle on international travelers to stem the spread of COVID-19, official sources said Tuesday.
While the government has yet to decide whether to allow spectators from abroad to attend the Summer Games, if approved they will likely be required to test negative for the COVID-19 virus multiple times before departure and have their condition monitored after entry into Japan, according to the sources.
But unlike foreign athletes and staff, for which the government is also planning to ease entry restrictions, spectators will be permitted to use public transport given the difficulties in restricting their movement.
The proposals will be discussed Thursday at a meeting of the central and Tokyo metropolitan governments, as well as the Tokyo Organising Committee.
Even if the attendance of spectators from overseas is approved, the government will give further consideration to whether to permit entry for those arriving from countries where case numbers are on the rise.
Olympic organizers are expected to make their decision regarding the number of spectators who will be allowed into the games by around spring.
The government already plans to allow foreign athletes and staff, including those from countries and regions on which Japan imposes entry bans, to arrive in the nation provided they submit proof of having tested negative for the virus and take sufficient precautionary measures throughout their stay.
The athletes will be able to compete in international tournaments or participate in training camps, even during the two-week quarantine period, if all conditions are fulfilled, with the same rules applying to Japanese athletes who return to the country from abroad.
The government plans to bring forward the introduction of the special system, which will become effective after Thursday’s meeting if approved, to help the athletes prepare for the games, according to the sources.