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Editorial: Make good use of additional time for next summer’s Tokyo Games

With the new goal determined, it is desirable to make progress toward the success of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics once again.


The Tokyo Olympics, which have been postponed due to the spread of infections with the new coronavirus, will have its opening ceremony on July 23 next year and end on Aug. 8. The Paralympics will be held next year from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.


This was the agreement reached among the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the central government, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the organizing committee.


Right now, what remains to be seen is when the coronavirus infections will be stamped out. Although there was also some consideration to having the Games in spring, the choice of holding them next summer is as late as possible in the approximately one-year span of the postponement. It may be meaningful to secure sufficient time until the infections calm down.


Though the dates in the new schedule for next year have moved by a day compared to this year, the Olympics will still begin on a Friday, the same as initially planned. This has the advantage of largely following the original plan. Because it will be held during the summer vacation period, it should also be easy to secure volunteers.


The event will be held in intense heat, which is the same situation as the previous plan, but it can be said that it is a realistic schedule to minimize the impact of the postponement.


As a result of this, athletes aiming for the Games will make a fresh start.


For the marathon and table tennis, athletes have already been selected to represent Japan. Both sports’ governing bodies do not intend to change the selection. The athletes should make efforts to adjust their conditions ahead of the actual Games.


On the other hand, events in which those who represent the country will be selected down the road are faced with the uncertainty of the future, partly because there seems to be no prospect as to when qualifying trials will be held. Each sports association and other organizations must strive to maintain a training environment while placing top priority on managing the health of athletes.


With the schedule to be set, the organizing committee and the Tokyo metropolitan government will begin preparations in earnest. They must spend the time of over a year before the Games effectively.


In addition to continuing preparations for the heat, it is important to consider measures to prevent infectious diseases as well as plans to station medical staff at venues.


The organizing committee plans to allow tickets already sold to be valid for the Games next summer, which was one of the focal points. Ticket holders who will no longer be able to attend will be offered refunds and permitted to list their tickets on an official resale site. This would be a reasonable decision.


Efforts must also be made to minimize the additional costs that are expected to arise from the postponement.


The IOC has said it will not change the name of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. It is therefore not necessary to remake medals, official goods and other items. The hope is there will be more similar measures thought up to curb expenses.


Hosting the event will depend on whether the spread of infections can be controlled. The government should cooperate with other countries to focus on the development of therapeutic drugs and vaccines.


— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Apr. 1, 2020

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