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Olympics: Tokyo's delayed and disrupted 2020 Games

Olympics: Tokyo's delayed and disrupted 2020 Games

People pose for photo with the Olympics Rings display at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Jul 8, 2021. (Photo: AP/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO: Olympic organisers have decided to hold the Tokyo Games without spectators, as Japan struggles to stem a new wave of COVID-19 infections with a state of emergency for Tokyo that will end after the Jul 23 to Aug 8 Games.

The following is a timeline of major events in the run-up to the Olympics, postponed for a year and set to open in about two weeks:

September 2013: Tokyo is awarded the 2020 Olympics after convincingly defeating rivals Istanbul and Madrid for the right to stage the Games for the second time, having first hosted them in 1964.

January 2020: The coronavirus is declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organization as fears grow in Japan that the outbreak could threaten the Games.

February 2020: A number of international sporting events, including Olympic qualifying tournaments, are cancelled or postponed.

With under five months to go before the event, the deputy director general of the Tokyo 2020 Preparation Bureau at the city government says they have no Plan B for the Games despite alarm over the spread of the virus in Japan and elsewhere.

March 2020: Despite the organising committee stating earlier in the month that preparations would continue as planned and the International Olympic Committee saying it would proceed as per the original schedule, the Games are postponed by a year.

January 2021: Japan's government continues with preparations to hold the Games, repeatedly insisting it will hold the event amid the pandemic despite opinion polls showing a majority of Japanese want them postponed again or cancelled.

March: The Olympic torch relay kicks off, beginning a four-month countdown to the Olympics, although celebrations are scaled back because of coronavirus curbs.

Organisers say international spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan during the Games, with a decision on local fans to be made in June.

May 18: The Tokyo Medical Practitioners' Association throws its weight behind calls to cancel the Games, saying hospitals are overwhelmed as the country battles a spike in COVID-19 cases.

May 21: A Reuters survey finds nearly 70 per cent of Japanese firms want the Tokyo Olympics either cancelled or postponed.

May 26: The White House reaffirms its support for Tokyo's plan to hold the Games and for US athletes competing there despite the issuing of a government advisory against travel to Japan.

An editorial in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, an official partner of the Games, calls for the Olympics to be cancelled, citing risks to public safety and strains on the medical system.

May 27: The head of a Japanese doctors' union says holding the Games in Tokyo could lead to the emergence of an "Olympic" coronavirus strain, but a senior International Olympic Committee member says the Games will go on "barring Armageddon".

Jun 13: The Group of Seven wealthy nations say in a communique after a leaders' summit in Cornwall that they support the holding of the Tokyo Olympics this year.

Jun 23: Organisers release guidelines banning alcohol, high-fives and talking loudly for the reduced numbers of Olympic ticket holders allowed into venues, as Tokyo marks a month until the Olympics open.

Jun 29: Tokyo decides to move the first half of the 15-day Olympic torch relay scheduled to take place in the capital off public roads, the metropolitan government says, as coronavirus infection numbers show signs of surging again.

Jul 6: Organisers ask the public not to gather on the streets of Sapporo for the marathon and race walk, a decision World Athletics, the governing body for the sport, says is inconsistent with rules allowing up to 10,000 spectators in Tokyo venues, many indoors.

Jul 8: Olympic organisers decide to hold the Tokyo Games without spectators under coronavirus restrictions as Japan struggles to stem a new wave of infections with a state of emergency in Tokyo.

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Source: Reuters

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