Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who played a key role in getting the Olympic Games to Tokyo in 2013, will not attend the Olympics opening ceremony.
Abe had pitched Japan as a "passionate, proud, and a strong believer" in the Olympics to International Olympic Committee (IOC) members then, as per public broadcaster NHK.
Japan Times reported that less than 950 people and less than 20 global leaders will attend the muted opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games scheduled for July 23.
This Olympics is expected to be a competition unlike anything the world has ever seen, said CNN, adding that Tokyo has a tough task of trying to be the world’s first "no fun" Olympics without athletes getting fans or sex.
The CNN report added that it is still not clear whether the existing public health measures are sufficient to prevent the Tokyo Games from becoming a global superspreader event. Athletes have begun arriving, and more than 70 infection cases linked to the Games have emerged already, it said.
Only IOC can cancel the event, says BBC, but it is expected to have got 70 percent of its money from broadcast rights and 18 percent from sponsorship.
WHO Head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is in Tokyo, expressed confidence in Japan safely hosting the event though its plans would be "put to the test."
Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief Toshiro Muto has not ruled out cancelling the Olympic Games even at this stage.
The budget for conducting the Tokyo Games -- which includes the one-year delay -- has spiralled to over $24 billion.
A leading Japanese paper, Asahi Shimbun, called for its cancellation saying that its survey hinted that 80 percent of the people want the Games to be cancelled or postponed, reported BBC.
The World Players Association, which represents 85,000 athletes in 60 plus countries, said the IOC must do more to ensure athletes' safety.
Japan's biggest sports star, tennis champion Naomi Osaka, had said earlier there should be a debate about whether the Games should go ahead.
The 2021 Olympics is turning into a $20-billion bust for Japan, said the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Host nation Japan expected an economic windfall and global recognition but amid pandemic, a disgruntled populace wants it all to go away.
According to The Guardian, the stark silence on Tokyo’s dead streets mirrors that the Olympics is only just tolerated. It added that the pandemic, and the IOC’s stubbornness, have transformed the Games into a made-for-TV spectacle with a stale aftertaste.
CBC Sports columnist Morgan Campbell said the budget for conducting the Tokyo Olympic Games swelled to a reported $15.4 billion, which is twice the original estimate, but the money spent is not coming back!
Let the Games … Be Gone? screamed a New York Times headline pointing out to the bidding scandals, human rights outrages, cheating scams and a city under pandemic siege. NYT declared that the world has had enough of the Tokyo Games.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First Published: IST