03/31/2020, 10.52
JAPAN
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Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics postponed to 2021

It is the first time that the Games have been postponed in peacetime. The International Olympic Committee and Japan had been insisting the sports event go ahead. New dates overturn organization plans. The event was expected to cost US $ 12.6 billion.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will open on July 23 and will end on August 8 next year, announced organizers this after the coronavirus pandemic forced the historic decision to postpone the sporting event to 2021.

It is the first time that the Olympics have been postponed in peacetime.

Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, announced the painful choice yesterday at a hurriedly organized press conference, during which he also announced that the Paralympics will take place between 24 August and 5 September.

Just a few hours earlier, Mori had said he was waiting for a final communication from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the week. But in a surprise move the IOC executive committee met yesterday.

For weeks, IOC and Japan insisted that the Olympics show would take place despite the virus and concerns of athletes and sports federations. Despite this rumors had begun to circulate that Japanese organizers could move the Games in the spring, avoiding the heat of the Tokyo summer which was their main concern before the coronavirus hit.

The postponement gives the organizers the "unprecedented" task of reorganizing an event that had been scheduled for seven years. Toshiro Mori has admitted that the additional costs will be "huge". According to the latest data, the Games were expected to cost 12.6 billion US dollars, shared between the organizing committee, the government of Japan and the city of Tokyo. However, that number is hotly contested by a government audit that the central government is already spending this amount multiple times.

The new dates are creating great upset in terms of organization and logistics: hotels, ticket offices, venues and transport are among the main problems that need to be addressed. The hotels had to cancel reservations: a blow, at a time when the coronavirus is hammering tourism. Some sports facilities reserved years in advance will have to be cancelled and there is still no uncertainty as to whether the ticket holders will be refunded. Another thorny problem is the athletes' village, which was to be converted into luxury apartments after the Games. The builders had already found buyers for some.

The Japanese government had advertised the Games as "the healing Olympics", organized to show how the country had recovered from the triple disaster of 2011, namely the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that devastated the northeastern region of the country. The Games are now referred to as an expression of humanity's triumph over Covid-19.

"We are embarking on an unprecedented challenge," Mori said yesterday. "But I think it's the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee's mission to hold the Olympics and Paralympics next year as proof of humanity's victory against the virus."

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