Tokyo Olympics' Postponement & The Logistics
With the world reeling under the impact of Covid-19, the Tokyo Olympics got postponed. What lies in the future? An analysis of developments.
Covid-19 has impacted life and events at all levels, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to July 2021. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) came up with a revised Qualification Task Force and approved a series of amendments. Here’s a look at the changes:
· The new qualification period deadline is June 29, 2021, and International Sports Federations (Ifs) can define their own qualification period deadlines, should these be prior to this date.
· The revised final sport entries deadline has now been set at July 5, 2021.
· The revision of the qualification systems will be finalised as quickly as possible, to give certainty to the athletes and National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
The circular added: “It is clear that all athletes who have qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 already remain qualified. This is a consequence of the fact that these Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, in agreement with Japan, will remain the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. Some 57 percent of qualification places have already been obtained. In some cases, a qualification quota place is obtained by the National Olympic Committee (NOC), and in some cases it is obtained directly by a specific athlete. In all cases, and as per the Olympic Charter, the respective NOC retains the right to select the athletes to represent it at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
The revised dates of Tokyo Olympics, July 23 to August 8, 2021, will bring their own challenges. Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission has to work with the stakeholders viz the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020, 33 International Federations, 206 National Olympic Committees, athletes, broadcasters and sponsors.
Was everyone supportive of the big call? The IOC stated: “Our Partners have been very supportive in the decision to focus on the health, safety and security of the international and Olympic community in these uncertain times. We would like to thank them for their continued cooperation, and look forward to working together to ensure that the Olympic Games are an incredible experience for all.”
The Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission has established a task force, under the title “Here We Go”. This task force is for the Tokyo Games and the IOC. It shall address all questions that come up with the postponement of the Tokyo Games.
Right at the start, the IOC had communicated that they have a keen eye on the Covid-19 outbreak. The IOC said they will be monitoring the situation on a day-to-day basis and the future prospect of the Games will be decided accordingly. Following the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), they decided to postpone.
In a press conference, the IOC said: “Postponing the Games represents a big challenge. In the coming months and year, we will have to focus on the organisation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, of course, but also on the delivery of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, which are approaching fast, and the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2022. We will need to assess how this workload affects our staff and decide how to organise ourselves to be as efficient as possible in helping the Organising Committees deliver the Games. We will rely on the ‘Here we go’ Task Force to give a clear overview of the situation and of the scope of the challenge ahead of us so that the IOC, as an organisation, can put in place the relevant measures and resources.”
Never in the history of the Olympic Games had there arisen a situation wherein the Games had to be postponed. The outbreak of the two World Wars led to the cancellation of some of the events, but never led to any postponement.
With this, we also need to understand how COVID-19 may impact the future of sports, as well as the mental and physical state of the athletes. LA POLO has interacted with health experts as well as players on this.
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Was the decision a result of the rising pressure created by the participants and the outside world. The IOC said: “The IOC has always taken into consideration the athletes’ voice, which has played a very important role. We are in constant contact with our Athletes’ Commission, whose Chair is a member of the IOC Executive Board and takes part in any consultation, any decision and any vote.”
The IOC was further seen informing that the IOC President had addressed the athletes over several mails. Also, a number of calls between the Athletes’ Commission and athlete representatives were made around the world and all the calls would eventually lead to the topic of the cancellation of the Games. “…The questions revolved around the qualification system, the training conditions, mental health and other issues. We took all of this into consideration, plus the many voices of athletes that we heard from around the world who were not in this call. Some were critical, others were supportive. This is normal in this very difficult situation of uncertainty.”
IOC further stated: “The cancellation of the Olympic Games would have destroyed the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees, from the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, and for all the people who are supporting the athletes, including coaches, doctors, officials, training partners, friends and family. It would have destroyed the work and the enthusiasm of our great Japanese hosts, with Tokyo being the best-prepared city for the Games ever.”
If we look at the legacy of the Olympic Games, it may be seen as the torch light at the end of the dark tunnel—the unprecedented events unfolding due to Covid-19. Tokyo 2020 adhered to a similar spirit. Thus, after a series of discussions, it was decided that the Olympic Flame will remain in Japan.
The postponement of a sporting event can lead to a big clash of events. Among the many questions at this time is how the World Championships and other competitions will be adjusted during the Olympic Games? The IOC has suggested that they will be working closely with the International Federations to assess how the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics will impact the calendar of other competitions. The IOC promises to extend its support to the athletes. The Olympic Solidarity has confirmed the extension of Olympic Sponsorship for around 1,600 athletes and 185 Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.
What will happen if the pandemic is still not contained by summer 2021? At this, the IOC was witnessed responding that they will keep following the risk management advised by WHO for mass gathering. They said: “We will continue to follow the principle that has driven all our decisions so far, which is to organise Olympic Games only in a safe environment for all people involved. We are committed to following this principle in the future.”