Mendoza: Abe’s bid for Olympic history

Al Mendoza

JAPANESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be the biggest loser if and when the Tokyo Olympics gets canceled?

You bet.

Tokyo outgunned Istanbul for the hosting of the quadrennial Games with Abe’s slogan, “Tokyo is a safe pair of hands,” in Buenos Aires in 2013.

And, in 2016, Abe made “Super Mario” capture the hearts of 70,000 people during the closing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Abe now badly needs the Tokyo Olympics as a capstone to his career as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.

His world stature and all, Abe considers the Tokyo Olympiad as the defining moment of his rather illustrious political career.

But comes now Covid-19 trying to block Abe’s bid.

While Abe is being shielded by repeated reassurances by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese organizers of the Olympiad pushing through four months from now, the popular sentiment is it should be canceled.

In a recent poll in Japan, 69.9 percent said “No” to the Olympics—the virus being a deadly threat to the fans’ well-being when the games are on.

That’s a big blow to Abe, still smarting all this time from a sluggish growth since Covid-19 started mauling the Japanese economy.

Of course, Abe clings to that flickering hope of the virus being gone sooner than expected.

This, despite an Irish bookmaker’s plug putting odds at 1-4 the Olympics will not open on July 24.

But Abe has found an ally in Michael Payne, the IOC marketing director for 20 years.

“You don’t jump the gun, no matter the media or political pressure,” said Payne, who said the final decision should be when the Olympiad is near.

May is Payne’s month of truth.

Tokyo has spent $12.6 billion thus far but auditors say it could be twice that much.

If the IOC decides to cancel, Abe can’t do anything. That’s the 2013 contract. IOC has the final say.

We play without the fans, in the process flushing $1 billion worth of tickets down the drain?

Crap. That’s like seeing Drilon replace Digong in 2022.

Or Trump pee with his pants on.