Tokyo Olympics to go ahead despite Covid surge

Publish Date
Friday, 8 January 2021, 6:12PM
Getty Images

Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympics are set to go ahead in a "safe and secure" manner despite the city reporting a record surge in Covid-19 cases.

Tokyo had 2,447 new cases of the virus on Thursday, an increase of almost 50 per cent from the day before -just five months out from the Games.

But Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga insisted work would continue to ensure the event went ahead as scheduled after it was postponed last year due to the pandemic.

The Olympics and Paralympics could see more than 15,000 athletes entering Japan from 205 nations and territories, plus tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, VIPS, sponsors, media and broadcasters.

It remains unclear whether fans will be permitted.

Meanwhile, the official cost of the postponed Tokyo Olympics increased by 22 per cent, the local organising committee said in unveiling its new budget last month.

In an online news conference, organisers said the Olympics will cost US$15.4 billion ($21.8b) to stage. This is up from US$12.6 billion (17.9b) in last year's budget.

The added US$2.8 billion is the cost of the one-year delay. Expenses come from renegotiating contracts and measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Audits by the Japanese government over the last several years, however, show the costs are higher than officially stated and are at least US$25 billion.

Tokyo said the Olympics would cost about US$7.5 billion when the IOC awarded the games in 2013. A University of Oxford study this year said Tokyo is the most expensive Summer Olympics on record.

"The Tokyo Olympics are operating in a very tough environment," Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organising committee, said when asked about the record costs. Muto suggested the games should be looked at as an investment rather than a cost.

The Olympics are to open on July 23. The Paralympics follow on August 24.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission