Japan holds subdued celebrations to mark one year until postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Jul 23, 2020, 05:30 PM(IST)

Photograph:( AFP )

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Japan holds subdued celebrations on Thursday evening to mark one year until the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to raise concerns whether the quadrennial Games will go ahead next year.

Japan holds subdued celebrations on Thursday evening to mark one year until the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to raise concerns whether the quadrennial Games will go ahead next year.

Tokyo was supposed to be cynosure of all eyes with thousands of athletes and fans gracing the events but now the organisers will hold a small event at an empty National Stadium after the public were barred from attending the event following new surge of positive cases.

Olympic countdown board have been reset around the Japanese capital as the digital signs display the message "365 days to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics".

Tokyo Olympics 2020

Despite the setbacks and fresh concerns, Japanese and Olympic officials are optimistic of hosting the Games in 2021, serving as a symbol of the world's recovery from the virus.

"They will be the first worldwide gathering after the coronavirus," International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach insisted last week.

However, some experts and officials, including Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have raised concerns that there could be a first peace-time cancellation of the showpiece event if the pandemic is not under control by 2021.

While the decision to delay the Games was historic when cases were emerging thick and fast and countries imposed lockdowns that forced the cancellation of qualifiers and events, situation have eased a bit across Europe with infections and deaths from the dreaded virus in decline. 

Tokyo also recorded 366 new infections on Thursday, a daily record.

"I'm afraid about the situation," said Sachiko Ahunwan, a 50-year-old department store employee. "It's unclear how far the coronavirus can be settled," she told AFP.

One major obstacle has been cleared, with Tokyo 2020 confirming this month that it has secured all the venues originally contracted for the Games.

"Now athletes aiming to take part in the Tokyo Olympics can set concrete goals to work toward," Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi said last week.

But sports stars remain less optimistic.

"To be honest, I still can't think about next year's Olympics," Olympic champion and Japanese judo king Shohei Ono told public broadcaster NHK. "I'm just setting a goal only for a week ahead."


 

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