Mendoza: Tokyo governor doubts Olympic staging

Al Mendoza

YOU think the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is sure to happen?

Think again, fellers.

Even Tokyo’s top gun is having doubts the Games will be held starting July 23 next year.

Postponed for a year because of the pandemic presently pillaging the world of its normal run of things, Governor (yes, governor and not mayor) Yuriko Koike of Tokyo feels uncertain of the Olympiad pushing through almost a year from now.

She raised issues last week about the Games strictly observing a quarantine period and international travel deal involving all Olympic participants and visitors of Tokyo during the two-week event.

Alarming, indeed, is the fact that currently, travelers from 111 countries are banned from entering Japan due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Interviewed by The Financial Times, Koike said the freedom for athletes, personnel and fans to visit Japan is the “most important thing for holding the Olympics and Paralympics” next year.

“A basic precondition for the Olympics is that the people of the world can come,” Koike said.

How true.

What is an Olympiad without screaming spectators at ringside?

It’s like Manny Pacquiao fighting inside a cemetery: Tombs are, well, his gallery.

And listen to this: In April, a spokesman for Tokyo 2020 said there was “no Plan B” if the Games got canceled again in 2021.

As I write this, there have been more than 17,100 cases of Covid-19 in Japan, with 916 deaths recorded.

Last week, a high-ranking official of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) said that if the pandemic persists into next year, the IOC will decide the Games’ fate in the spring of 2021 (March or April?).

“All sporting federations must adapt to the Games’ postponement,” said the IOC’s Pierre Olivier Beckers-Vieujant. “We can’t envisage a similar upheaval a second time.”

A vaccine for the virus is also needed for the Games to proceed safely, Koike told CNN.

“We have to make the Games safe for athletes and spectators alike,” said Koike.

Only barely a year to go before the July 2021 Olympics could blast off—hopefully. It’s a race against time, indeed.