The International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues its attempt to keep the Olympics Games on track for a July 24 start in Tokyo. However, with each passing hour, this seems harder and harder to do for sports that have yet to finalize team spots. Many of the events that help determine who will compete in Tokyo are postponed or canceled. This is, of course, in line with other professional and college sports leagues that have been canceled, suspended or postponed.
Japanese politicians say the show must go on
Japan’s prime minister recently reaffirmed that the Olympics would go ahead as scheduled. This line of thinking was also projected by Japan’s Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, who claims that they have not even considered canceling or rescheduling the Games. He added, “We continue to proceed preparations to hold a safe and secure Games that will open on July 24.”
The torch lighting fiasco
The lighting of the Olympic Torch was done on Saturday, March 14. Actor Gerard Butler (the lead in 300, a film about Sparta’s warriors) held the torch, but there was just one leg because the usual global run carrying the torch was canceled because of the large crowds the handoffs attract.
After lighting the torch in Mystras, Butler took the torch to Sparta, where he addressed a large crowd that had gathered. Video of the event in Sparta showed reporters, photographers and others surrounding the actor and definitely not exercising the recommended social distancing.
The IOC will make the call
The IOC is the governing body in charge of deciding if the Games will go and when. There are billions of dollars on the line and global scrutiny over whatever decision is made. The decision to cancel or postpone may not happen for a while: IOC member Dick Pound went on record saying they could cancel the Games as late as May.
Sources say that the IOC is reluctant to push back the Games because it does not want to compete in the fall against American football. Regardless of whether the Games go forward as scheduled or are postponed, there will be numerous, novel legal issues related to both team selection and sponsor payment obligations (as well as many other issues).