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Tokyo Olympics 2021: Thirty-one questions about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics answered

Tokyo Olympics 2021: Thirty-one questions about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics answered


The 2020 Olympic Games is set to be one of the most peculiar yet, with it taking place while the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing all sorts of problems around the world – and particularly in Tokyo.

Yet, with the Games set to get underway on July 23, there are plenty of questions that people are asking themselves and we have tried to clarify these below.

1. Is the situation under control in Tokyo 2020?

Despite the severe control measures that are being carried out, like daily PCR tests, by Wednesday 79 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded. In an Olympic family of about 30,000 people, this is quite a high rate. Not all are in the Olympic Village, also in other sub-venues such as the case of the South African football team. In the city of Tokyo, there are 1,000 daily infections (12 million inhabitants) in the past week. The latest data from Wednesday 20 shows 1,387, the second-highest figure in months. The highest was on Saturday, with 1,410.

2. Are athletes limited in their movements?

Yes, in fact, their movement is limited to training and returning to the Olympic Village. They can only move around the Olympic Village. They cannot go to watch competitions other than their sport. Taking into account that their stay in Tokyo is obligatorily reduced to five days before the start of their competition and one day after, very few will have completed the 14 days of quarantine at the end of the Games and from then on everything is more open.

3. Is the control serious?

All those who participate in the Games have an app called Cocoa built into their mobile phones that allows traceability in the event of a positive test result. For example, a Czech beach volleyball player, one of the athletes who tested positive, had close contact with 12 people, but only one more failed the test the next day.

4. What measures are taken?

They are isolated and have to pass a PCR test six hours before competing. Otherwise, they are eliminated. In the case of team sports, as is the case with the South African football team, they must have at least 13 players who are not infected out of an initial squad of 18.

5. Is it compulsory to stay in the Village?

No, it is not. However, movements have been so restricted that, for example, golfers cannot enter the hotel near the course until the eve of the start of the competition and have to stay in the Village for two days of training in which the bus ride is an hour and a half. Simone Biles and the rest of the U.S. gymnastics team have moved to a hotel. The road cyclists are also there.

6. Does the situation affect the opening ceremony?

Not only in terms of fans, although there will be a number of volunteers, but also in the parade. The delegations are being cut in half. Spain, which has 321 qualified athletes, although not all of them are in Tokyo at the moment, will only be able to parade with a delegation of 150 athletes, including a group of seven coaches, trainers. The flag-raising in the Village has been eliminated.

7. What is the most surrealistic measure that has been taken?

Surely the one that prevents the president of the national federation from attending their relevant events. Fernando Carpena, in swimming, will be able to be in the pool because he is part of the Executive of the International Federation, but Jorge Garbajosa, if Spain reach the basketball final, will probably not be able to. Although there will be no public, the condition has not been withdrawn.

8. Is there a risk of the Games being cancelled?

Only an unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 could cause such a situation. It would not be the Games that have a problem, it would be Japan that would have a problem.

9. Does Japan want the Games?

Fifty-five percent of the population, in a survey of more than 1,400 people, have doubts about the Games. Two-thirds believe it will be impossible to control the pandemic during the Games. Such poor popular support has not been seen since Athens 2004. More than 140,000 signatures have been collected calling for the event to be cancelled. The press is divided between those for and against. Off the record, some of the citizens air their grievances to those who will listen. So much so that several presidents of official sponsors have declined the invitation to attend and will watch the ceremony from home “like the rest of the citizens”. For fear of COVID, they argue. There is fear of reprisals from consumers.

10. Can the organising committee cancel the Games at its own risk?

Not without breaching the contract signed in Buenos Aires in 2013. It would have a penalty of close to six billion dollars, which, together with the 13 billion they have invested, would put the country in a compromising situation. It has already lost a little over 1.3 billion due to the absence of fans and the potential impact that the presence of a little less than a million national and international tourists would have on the city.

11. What is the reason for this penalty?

Mainly because the IOC, which is the only one that can break this contract, has tied up good television contracts around the world. Especially with NBC, in the United States, and Discovery for many countries. It is estimated that in this last period it sold the PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 package for 3.7 billion euros in the sum of all countries. In the Olympic sponsorship program, the top program, the IOC brings in another two billion. Japan would pay for this if it broke the contract.

12. Why is the IOC not magnanimous in such a situation?

Based on the values of the IOC, one can assume that the solidarity of the IOC could have produced an amicable agreement and postponed them. The problem is that of the money that the IOC receives, a large part goes directly to the international federations, many of which would be doomed to bankruptcy if they do not receive this income now. It would be a generalised collapse of sport.

13. Will there be fans in attendance?

In Tokyo, even if Thomas Bach leaves the door open if the situation improves, there is very little chance of fans attending. In Miyagi, there will be a small crowd for Thursday’s China-USA match. In Fukushima it was said at one time that fans would be allowed, but not anymore. At all locations, fans are being banned from singing. It is recommended to encourage players with your hands.

14. Why was a second postponement not considered?

From the first doubts that the IOC had, more in 2020 than in 2021, the only options considered were to hold them or in an extreme case, a scenario that was not contemplated, to cancel them. There was no room for any other postponement. The Games require an expense, less than what has been wasted in the past, but it needs the minimum four-year margin to make them profitable.

15. Are the quarantines being respected?

Juan Antonio Samaranch has asked that the Japanese rules be respected because it will be a way of showing “gratitude for the effort they have made”. The truth is that not 100 percent of the Olympic family is scrupulously complying with what has been imposed. In theory, you can only be in the street for 15 minutes during the three days of the express quarantine. No one is allowed to set foot in the city outside the Olympic venues for 14 days.

16. What will be unusual at the competitions?

Although fans have already become accustomed to watching football without an audience, it will be strange to see Olympic golds being won without noise. Especially in races that recreate a special atmosphere such as the 100-metre dash. It is intended to use canned sounds from other editions and will also use fan screens and will also be enabled in some competitions telematic contact with those closest to them. It will also be very strange that each of the medallists will have to hang up their medal at the ceremony.

17. What legacy will the Games leave Japan?

Very little. Especially compared to the 1964 Games, which brought about a radical change in the city of Tokyo, modernising it, bringing the bullet train, several hotels, and more which boosted the service sector, which is now the number one asset. If all goes well, it will leave a remarkable spirit of resilience. These are not easy Games.

18. Are they working well?

So far, everything has been overwhelmed by the system in place. The waiting times are very long, the bureaucracy endless. In territory where the organizing committee is usually satisfied with the assistance of the IOC, now the government has come into play. It requires you to download an app (Cocoa) to be geolocated at all times. Waits at airports have exceeded eight hours in some cases and without giving a concrete answer.

19. Will relevant people attend the opening ceremony on Friday?

The presence of Emmanuel Macron, the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, and Tedros Adhanom has been confirmed. One of the measures taken has been to limit the entourage of heads of state to eleven and that of ministers to five. Just under 30 heads of state, led by host Yoshihide Suga, will attend. There were about 40 in Rio and twice as many in London.

20. What do the athletes highlight in the Olympic Village?

The quality of the food and the conditions of the Olympic Village, built on the artificial island of Harumi. There are 21 skyscrapers in an area that has been reclaimed from the sea for almost a century and will later be offered for sale as a residential area. It will be one of the few legacies left by the pandemic Games.

21. Will they be the worst Games in history?

No. Perhaps the saddest – with the exception of Munich’s Black September – or the most frustrating. In a country that is already using 6G technology, that announced driverless cars for the event, all kinds of robotics… not being able to deploy it in all its splendour is a setback for a country that had found in the Olympic Games a great showcase to position itself again among the powers.

22. Which is the largest delegation?

In terms of the number of athletes, the United States is first with 621, followed by China with 431, although with coaches and support staff the number rises to 777. A total of 207 Olympic committees will be present at the Tokyo Games. The United Nations is made up of 193 countries.

23. Who are the oldest and youngest athletes at the Tokyo Games?

Rider Mary Hanna (66 years old) will be the oldest athlete at the Games. The Australian will also become the second oldest participant in history, after Britain’s Lorna Johnstone, also an equestrian, who competed at Munich 1972 at the age of 70. Another Australian equestrian, Andrew Hoy, follows with 62. The youngest, breaking a record for earliness, will be the 12-year-old Syrian rower Hend Zaza, even younger than skateboarder Sky Brown, who will be an Olympian at 13 years and 11 days. Both beat a historic record: that of swimmer Margery Hinton (13 years and 44 days Amsterdam, 1928).

24. Can we expect many records?

It is almost always swimming that fires up the record churner at the Olympic Games, especially now that it has incorporated mixed events that are still very tender. But the introduction of the carbon plate in spike shoes has created a new revolution in athletics. Even Usain Bolt’s 200 record could fall because of track conditions.

25. What distance is required between athletes and journalists?

The distance between the athlete and the journalist, regardless of the media they work for, radio, television or press, will be two metres. Likewise, a distance of 1.5 metres is required in mixed zones between journalists as an anti-COVID measure.

26. What is the highlight of these Olympic Games?

It is embodied by gymnast Simone Biles and her challenge to win five gold medals and equal the number of Olympic titles with the mythical Larissa Latynina, who won nine between the 1956 and 1964 Games.

27. What is the best streak in the history of the Games that can continue?

The U.S. 4×100 freestyle relay team has not lost a final since the specialty became Olympic in Rome 1960. This time around, Murphy, Dressel, Andrew and, most likely, Apple. This year they have a double threat in Great Britain, though pending Greenbank in the backstroke, and Japan. They have won 14 of 14 golds since 61 years ago, interrupted only by the boycott of Moscow.

28. Who will be the first Spanish athlete to debut in Tokyo?

The Spanish men’s national soccer team, which will face Egypt on Thursday at 9:30 CEST. Two Spaniards will compete before the cauldron is lit: shooters Ines de Velasco and Daniel Castro, in the individual qualifying event.

29. Why will these Games go down in history, whatever happens?

Because it will be the first edition in which a transgender athlete, Laurel Hubard, will participate. She will compete in the -87 kg category on August 2. There is debate between those who consider that she has an advantage and those who argue that it is one more step of inclusion in sport. Also because of the IOC’s permissiveness in accepting solidarity, social or political demonstrations by athletes before competitions.

30. How is the fight against doping?

On the one hand, the pandemic has made it more difficult for testers to travel to certain places and, on the other hand, the lack of economic resources has led to fewer tests being carried out. The number of medals reinstated to other athletes was embarrassing between Beijing (47) and London (38). In Rio, there were only four. The question is to think whether the gap has narrowed or whether cheaters have taken up new ways of avoiding detection.

31. What new sports appear in the program?

Baseball and softball reappear, which had been out since 2008, in addition to karate, surfing, climbing and skateboarding. In total, 42 sports make up the Olympic program with the most gold medals in the modern era (339), with a contingent of 11,090 athletes who will participate in 42 venues.





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