Tokyo Olympic aftermath still being untangled a year later

by | Jul 21, 2022 | Sports

TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics survived the COVID-19 postponement, soaring expenses and some public opposition. A year later, the costs and benefits remain as difficult to untangle as the Games were to pull off.In his speech at the closing ceremony, IOC President Thomas Bach said a major accomplishment of the Games was simply reaching the end.“We did it,” Bach said. “We did it together,” he repeated, crediting the athletes, Japanese government officials, and deep-pocketed broadcasters for refashioning the Games despite no fans, disappointed sponsors, and no buzz around the city. Organizers said the Games would drive tourism, showcase Japan’s technological prowess, and create memories similar to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The pandemic erased that.Japan’s goal after the postponement was to get through it, mindful that Beijing was holding the Winter Olympics in China just six months after Tokyo’s close. For the International Olympic Committee, it was a priority to get the Games on television and keep big sponsors — the sources of 90% of IOC income — happy.“I think what the Games meant more than anything else was simply not having to deal with a cancellation,” David Leheny, a political scientist at Japan’s Waseda University, told The Associated Press. “There were no public health disasters associated with it. I do think officials would like to have run a victory lap — if the public had been more enthusiastic about it.”“If Japan had cancelled,” Leheny added, “there would have been a lot of discussion, particularly in the conservative media, about what it meant that we couldn’t pull it off.”As a final act befo …

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