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Japanese task force to put Tokyo Olympics back together after COVID-19 delay


The Tokyo Olympics need new dates for the opening and closing ceremonies in 2021.

Nothing much can get done until those dates are worked out by the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and Tokyo organizers.

“We must decide this soon, otherwise it will be hard to decide on other things to follow,” Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, told his 30 senior directors — all men but one — seated in a large meeting room on Thursday.

Two days after the unprecedented postponement was announced, the group gathered for the first meeting of what is being called the “Tokyo 2020 New Launch Task Force.” They must put the Olympics back together after they were torn apart by the coronavirus pandemic.

Muto and the president of the organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, each gave pep speeches. Mori, an 82-year-old former Japanese prime minister, drew on war memories from his youth to summon the resolve to redo in a few months what was seven years in the planning.

He talked of his father going “to the war in the Pacific” and leaving a rugby ball and a baseball glove behind for his young son.

“I’m sorry, I’m an old person and I talk about the old days,” Mori said. “I’m comparing this to the old days and I might be criticized by the media. However, this is the emotion I have inside me and this is the emotion I have as we face the predicament in front of us.”

Muto ran off a condensed string of issues to be resolved: ticketing, security, venues, merchandise, accommodation, the Athletes Village, transportation and lining up unpaid volunteers. He added he was looking at “thousands of contracts” and the interests of broadcasters, sponsors, the IOC, world sports federations and national Olympic committees.

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“I didn’t imagine at all we’d be tested to this degree,” he acknowledged.

He also voiced another reality.

“Additional expenses are going to be quite massive we assume,” Muto said.


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