TOKYO – Tokyo pitched itself as "a safe pair of hands” when it was awarded the Olympics 7 1/2 years ago.
“The certainty was a crucial factor," Craig Reedie, an IOC vice president at the time, said after the 2013 vote in Buenos Aires.
Now, nothing is certain as Tokyo's postponed Olympics hit the 100-days-to-go mark on Wednesday. Despite surging cases of COVID-19, myriad scandals and overwhelming public opposition in Japan to holding the Games, organizers and the IOC are pushing on.
Tokyo's 1964 Olympics celebrated Japan's rapid recovery from defeat in World War II. These Olympics will be marked by footnotes and asterisks. The athletes will aim high, of course, but the goals elsewhere will be modest: get through it, avoid becoming a super-spreader event, and stoke some national pride knowing few other countries could have pulled this off.
“The government is very conscious of how ‘the world’ views Japan,” Dr. Gill Steel, who teaches political science at Doshisha University in Kyoto, wrote in an email. “Canceling the Olympics would have been seen, at some level, as a public failure on the international stage.”
The price will be steep when the Olympics open on July 23.
The official cost is $15.4 billion. Olympic spending is tough to track, but several government audits suggest it might be twice that much, and all but $6.7 billion is public money.
The Switzerland-based IOC generates 91% of its income from selling broadcast rights and sponsorship. This amounts to at least $5 billion in a four-year cycle, but the revenue flow from networks like American-based NBC has been stalled by the postponement.