Tokyo National Stadium, without an audience during a track and field competition last August.Atsushi Tomura / Getty Images
The redundancy of the question - will the Olympic Games be played next summer, from July 23 to August 8? - abounds in the skepticism with which an always positive answer is assimilated.
The pandemic persists around the world, Japan has declared a state of alarm in several areas including Tokyo, according to a recent survey by Kyodo News 80% of Japanese want the Games to be canceled or postponed again and
published on Thursday that a member of the Japanese government assures that the Games will be canceled and only the best formula is being sought to announce it and ensure the concession of the 2032 edition. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), reiterates : "At this time, we have no reason to believe that the Games will not open on July 23 at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium."
There are six months left until the extension granted by the Japanese government and the IOC is fulfilled when, on March 24, 2020, they proclaimed that "the light at the end of the tunnel that was going to signal the triumph of humanity" would shine, but not July 24, 2020, but in 2021. “There is no plan B,” insists Bach.
"We are fully committed to making these Games safe and successful."
The IOC refers to some sporting events such as the bubble that the NBA manufactured at Disney World, Orlando, to conclude last season from July 30 to October 11, or the Handball World Cup held in Egypt.
The IOC, however, observes with concern the problems that have occurred as a result of the displacement and stay of tennis players from half the world to compete in the Australian Tennis Open.
The positive cases registered during the flights and in the following days already on Australian soil, the quarantines and the inability of some to train in a minimally adequate way have sown some moments of chaos.
Several tennis players have assured that, had they known, they would not have competed in Australia.
Pere Miró, the IOC's deputy general director, emphasizes the precept that guides the Olympic matrix: “We are going for the Games”, the Catalan leader says, “but we do not live outside this world, and therefore we have to be willing to see how the pandemic evolves ”.
One of the certainties that the IOC works with is that the 2021 Games will be very different from those of the 31 previous editions.
“They will not be the ones we are used to seeing.
They will not be the same ”, underlines Miró.
A criterion shared by Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE): "Although the Games are not like they used to be, and of that I am convinced, the athletes will be fine."
The Tokyo organizers are working to define what the giant bubble will look like with which it is intended to guarantee maximum protection against the coronavirus to all those accredited in the Games.
The IOC often refers to this group as the Olympic family and includes athletes, coaches, managers, journalists, judges and guests.
The bubble system will also prevent some groups from mixing with others and that the coexistence that characterizes life in the Olympic Village is not possible on this occasion.
“We are working to educate all those who attend the Games that they would have to be vaccinated.
But a prior problem must be solved and it is the possibility that not everyone can do it because the way in which vaccination is being developed varies from one country to another, it depends on the approvals of each vaccine in each country and on a lot of factors ”, explains Miró.
Another essential premise for the IOC to establish its own health protocols is to know what measures the Japanese government can adopt up to the time the Games are played and whether, for example, it will require mandatory vaccination, not only for athletes, but for any person traveling to the country.
“In the event that this is not the case,” adds Miró, “we wonder to what extent we can force athletes and members of the Olympic family to be vaccinated, to what extent legally, and even ethically, is it possible.
And if not, what are the precautions that should be taken ”.
The IOC, without a concrete answer, works in those scenarios.
Together with the Organizing Committee, it works on the implementation of a very strict protocol that will include a multitude of covid-19 tests and constant monitoring of all those who are in the orbit of the Games.
The IOC projects that athletes arrive at the Tokyo Olympic Village no earlier than five days from the date of their competition and leave it no later than two days later.
The opening and closing ceremonies will be restricted to 6,000 of the 11,000 athletes who will participate in the Games and only a small representation of the judges and referees will attend.
Neither the IOC nor the Organizing Committee want to give any clue as to how the problem of public attendance at stadiums will be resolved.
They have only dropped that, obviously, there will be no possibility of filling all the stands of the stadiums and facilities where they compete, and that the restrictions will be mandatory.
How much will they reach?
Will foreign fans who surely already bought tickets for the 2020 dates be allowed?
How will the return of tickets proceed?
How will the hotel industry in Japan's capital, which has launched itself to build dozens of new hotels, react?
According to a study carried out by Katsuhiro Miyamoto, professor of theoretical economics at the University of Kansai, Japan, organizing the Olympic and Paralympic Games without spectators would entail direct losses of $ 3.7 billion, € 3 billion, and if the reduction of expenditures and consumption in households and the puncture in the tourism industry and in promoting sporting and cultural events, the losses would amount to 23.1 billion dollars, about 19 billion euros.
Another issue in which no progress has been made is the presence of journalists in the competition venues and in the Olympic Village.
The accreditation process already started in November 2019 stopped last March and has not yet been resumed.
"Officially it can be said that there will be no cut in the number of accreditations", advances Alejandro Blanco, president of the COE.
"However, many media will surely wonder if it will make sense to send journalists to Tokyo, with all the costs involved, if their work there may be very limited by restrictions."
Restlessness to close the rankings
The uncertainty over the holding of the Games is doubly unsettling for athletes who have yet to earn their passport to Tokyo.
Spain has 207 athletes already classified and will be one of the countries with the most teams in the running.
It will compete for both men and women in basketball, water polo, field hockey and gymnastics, as well as men's soccer and handball.
The women's handball team will play the Pre-Olympic in Llíria (Valencia) from March 19, postponed a year ago due to the pandemic.
In artistic swimming, Spain has an Olympic place in the duo, but by teams it has yet to play the Pre-Olympic to try to make up for its absence in Rio.
In swimming, Mireia Belmonte, Jessica Vall, Africa Zamorano, Hugo González and Nicolás García achieved the minimum to be in Tokyo in December, while other applicants such as Joanllu Pons, Jimena Pérez and Marina García must still improve their records. Classified athletes, currently have a minimum of 22 athletes (16 men and six women), and they already have their presence in Tokyo, but thirty more will be classified by ranking.
As this does not close until June 21, it is now very difficult to specify how many more would enter this way.